Protecting, Nurturing and Providing Opportunities for At Risk Youth, Particularly African-American Males

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This issue is very near to my heart. The social problem that I’m writing about is African American young men that lack the opportunities early in life that result in them making bad choices that affect the rest of their life. Working with youth in an area where there are often few opportunities for kids in general to find ways to occupy themselves in positive exciting activities and to be certain of, that the goals they once completely felt were reachable but now see them as unreachable, is disturbing. Working with children who are living in the very circumstances that you read about or watch on television makes me constantly question, “How can we help these children and meet their necessities in ways that will take them into the next stage of their life in a positive way?” Having worked in an alternative school setting as a juvenile officer with majority of Black and Hispanic, I can connect to several key facts discussed in this paper. Reading and writing go hand in hand. I have had the gratification and the privilege to work with young men (and women) who are struggling students. I have witnessed firsthand how a youth who had at no time experienced the enjoyment of reading, unexpectedly find the real pleasure of words once they get the hang of it. Reading has a way of touching a person when nothing else will. Kids who are educated need to involve themselves in self-selected reading that will help not only academically, but also emotionally. They improve their sense of self -worth. I cannot express to you the happiness I feel when I see a young men who don’t even want to be in school all of a sudden transforms and ask “Can I get a book from the library?” I also can tell you about a young man who spoke those exact words. Reading t...

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...t the solution! 72% of the black children are born to unwed mothers. 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. (US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988) 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. (Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992) The waste of African American male kids is a heart-rending and problematic tragedy that a small number of people are disturbed about. I for one will continue to attempting to do something about it. I am trying to educate young black men about the state of affairs that are in and at the same time I am trying to provide direction and support to their parents whom I think to be the first line of defense in ending this tragedy. If we can get more parents involved because research has proven the fact that education is the source to solving this problem.

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