Children's Aid Society
For this group the Associate Division Director for Adolescent services met with 15 teenagers who represent programs across New York City. The youth agreed with most of the grades given, but felt that they would have given much lower grades for job creation and employment opportunities. They also felt that though schools in NYC are safer the quality of education is worst and that many teens are dropping out, but because of the way the numbers are tracked we (adults) don't see it. Youth are sent to GED programs that are not adequate and they end up becoming disconnected from the system, but still count on attendance rolls.
Focus Group on The UCAN Teen Report Card
Segregation in Education
During the conversation about quality education many of the youth felt that NYC is the most segregate city when it comes to education. A youth said " I hardly see a white face in Public schools, and in those communities that white kids do go to public school blacks and Latinos can't afford to live there"! This was a huge concern for this group and they agreed that next year maybe the researchers should look at segregation in education in the United States and the lack of money and quality teachers the public schools get. A young woman said, " I have a Chemistry regents and it took half the year to get a book and we don't even have a lab!"
The teens felt that schools were safer, but outside the school is not and that many of the initiatives for safety lead to victimization on all teens off color especially boys. One teen shared " We get picked up at least twice a month for nothing and then the police place us in their head books and try and match you to a gang. When it's over they just say we had a report on someone who looked like you, but how can 15 boys all look the same?" Overall they felt things were safer, but it has led to many innocent people being locked up or harassed by law enforcement
On Teen Sex:
They felt adults were still clueless and many of them have seen the pregnancy rate go up. They agreed the information is out there, but teens are not listening. " It's about teaching healthy relationships early, like at 10" One young woman said.
Adult Leaders and Government
The teens think our present government is full of liars and believe it wouldn't change until the President is out of office. They feel that local leadership has been good. They like mayor Bloomberg and feel he listens. They do not trust our federal government at the present time and feel that people around the world don't trust Americans because of it. One sad statement that they all shared was that Blacks. Latinos, and those who are poor can never be president in this country because you need to be a billionaire almost to campaign. The idea of anyone can grow up to be president is not part of most teen's beliefs system anymore. Without this many felt that there is no real diversity of opinions or beliefs in government, but the values of a majority of rich, upper class white people.
Most of the teens in this group felt there is a lack of family leadership and support for them. They believe more caring adults are needed who have skills to help kids get to their goals. They felt the state of families was in need of support. "Many women are doing it alone….where are the men" one young man stated.
- More youth programs that stay up later when teens really get in trouble
- More money for skill based programs that could lead to jobs
- New government leadership.
- Opportunities for poor and minority youth to participate in government career training
- More programs that help teens finish High School besides the GED.
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