John A. Calhoun

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Youth Policy


It is not news to the youth-serving community that something new is afoot regarding how we think about and work with youth.

Well known is the stir on the national level: President Bush's YES initiative; numerous pieces of congressional legislation whose proposals range from school-based programs through conservation and urban corps to mandated national service. Locally, projects of various sorts are springing up in schools, youth-serving agencies and in other organizations whose functions impinge on youth.

Not so well known-or fully understood-is a key notion that could well be lost amid the legitimate clamor and enthusiasm for the concept, namely, that youth service is not simply a program. It is infinitely more powerful, for it is also a perspective. And its implications are dual: first, that we view youth in a new and fresh way, as a potential resource and not just as a tangle of pathology to be sorted out; and second, that all agencies which work with youth can become involved. Additional resources are helpful but not in all cases are they necessary. Most agencies working with young people can shift policy and practice to embrace a youth-as-resources dimension. Thus, it is both a program and a perspective.


Youth At Risk: Part III of a Special Twelve-Month Series