Youth development and education is a critical part of equipping young people with the tools they need as they transition into adulthood. At the same time, the solid foundation of a focused education will help them reach their potential. Sadly, for at-risk youths the path is not always quite so simple and whilst there are many organizations supporting education for this group, there are many reasons to continue to focus on and improve educational opportunities.
In this article, we take a look at some of the reason it’s so important to develop and improve educational opportunities for at-risk youths.
At-Risk Youth Issues and Statistics in 2020
24% of people living in the United States are under 18 years old, that’s over 74 million children that require access to a good education. Unfortunately, around 40% of those children are members of low-income families — that is, families with an income at, or under, 200% the established federal poverty line.
The Low Income Problem
Unfortunately, children who are members of a low income family have a tendency to fall between societal and educational cracks and are therefore more likely to get involved in gang incidents, robberies, engage in sex before they’re 16, or even run away from home. Dropping out of high school sees an increased potential for crime and serving prison time by as much as 8 times, which is not surprising given that over 12% of those dropping out of high school end up unemployed. High quality, at-risk focused intervention and education can significantly help to reduce these outcomes.
Out of every 10 youths from low income families on a four-year college course, only one will be expected to graduate. When you compare this to significantly higher graduation rates for middle and high income families (28% and 50% respectively), you can see the direct correlation between family income and educational success rates.
This is why it is so important that teaching staff, therapists, counselors and youth development workers in general are skilled at identifying special needs and specifying appropriate or alternative educational resources. Without the kind of skills learned on courses — such as this MA that focuses on at-risk and alternative education from Marian University MAE — many of these children’s needs can go unnoticed, leaving their educational potential in disarray.
Another common issue correlated with a low income background is the increased likelihood of arriving at school with below required language levels. This is along with limited help in the home with homework and extra-curricular activities, while contending with emotional issues that can significantly impart learning outcomes and lead to absences.
However, the positive potential is worth all the hard work because if the graduation rate could be increased to 90%, then that would mean an extra 219,000 diplomas could be awarded to children.
There is no doubt that identifying and acting on potential at-risk youth development situations can significantly improve educational outcomes for children with disadvantaged backgrounds or special needs. The more trained professionals in the field to improve educational opportunities, the better.