Monday, 25 August 2008

The Problem with Youth

Another day, another teenage life cut short by knife crime. What can be done?

Some say banning knives is the solution, but as someone who regularly carries a knife (they are useful) and has never stabbed nor had the inclination I have come to the conclusion that it is not the knife that kills but the wielder of the blade who is at fault (blinding flash of the obvious I know).

But how do we combat this culture. The government has tried additional funding for youth groups, but I am reminding of a conversation I once overheard with a youth support worker.

For a bit of background I volunteer with the Boys Brigade a Christian youth organisation founded in 1883. A different officer within the company mentioned his work to a youth worker, and she responded by saying how good it was to see “non-traditional youth work” was still going strong. He queried the use of “non-traditional” stating the organisation was 125 years old and had worked through the church and been inspired by the military and asked how any of this was non-traditional compared the traditional youth started in the 50’s by local councils. This level of ignorance is dangerous and undermines the work done by the Scouts, Guides, Pilots, Crusaders

I think this is the problem with youth work now. Councils employ “dedicated” social science graduates, who have no idea, went to a middle class youth group and do it as a job part funded by mommy and daddy and view themselves as dedicated.

The most dedicated man I have ever met was a captain with the Boys’ Brigade in Bristol. He has a full time job, a family, works with other local churches, has one evening a week free and seems to do something every weekend. The company has had problems with officers over the time I was involved, but he was always there on a Monday working with the boys.

It is people like this man who are the answer. The only question to ask is how we can support him.

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