Youth Workers and Terror: an Evolution

Young people have been given the opportunity to earn money and work experience for generations. Every culture on the globe has some sort of task for their youth to undergo as an initiation into adulthood. These programs take require both youth and adult participation. Although it may seem like an easy career, working with young people is often challenging. As time goes by and societies across the globe change so do the goals associated with working with youth. Today youth workers must be able to juggle a number of skills and projects in order to address the increasing needs of the Nations youth in the climate of a post 9/11 world.At one time work opportunities provided young people with basic education while assisting families financially. Youth workers of the early twentieth century were mostly concerned with giving young people the skills to make a positive contribution to society while make a working wage. Throughout the rise of these programs, which is primarily set in the twentieth century, health issues and education reigned. Despite WWI and WWII the Nations youth have never faced the terror and uncertainty that they are facing today.The twenty-first century brings about many changes to the youth working movement. Specifically the rise in terrorism and security concerns has created a generation of youths who are apprehensive about the future. Just as leaders of the nation must face terror and growing concerns about national security, youth workers must address the fear and apprehension felt by today’s teens. These fears and feelings of uncertainty are of major concern because young people who have had limited experience in the world do not have the coping skills to manage the strong emotions associated with fear and anxiety of the magnitude reported in the UK.Political tensions have a profound affect on the nations youth. A global study “GenWorld” was conducted post 9/11 to determine the affects of political strife and war on the teenage culture. “Its conclusion was that 9/11 was a watershed: ‘Seemingly overnight the world changes from one filled with the optimism and endless possibility of the Internet boom to a dark and anxious place threatened by global war and international terror’, (“Everthing Has Changed”, 2006, p. 13).” Of the 3332 teens and young adults surveyed only 14 percent said they felt the world was changing for the better. Another 62 percent said that they have major concerns about terrorism. “This new caution and pessimism is a big change, (“Everthing Has Changed”, p. 13).” If the youth are pessimistic about the future then they are more apt to “give-up” or not work toward positive change, (“Everthing Has Changed”). Thus without a pro-active youth the world will not change for the better and the pessimisim becomes a self-fullfilling phrophesy.In some areas of the globe teenager are more than pessimistic about the furture of the world. “Then there is also the fact that teenagers are in the frontline of world terrorism. Three of the four London suicide bombers were youths leaders from Leeds, and two others from his youth group, (“Everthing Has Changed”, 2006, p. 13).” What this means is that the youth worker must take into consideration that these are dangerous times and the young people of the world need to learn how to deal with fear and stress more than ever. Humor as well as religious methodolgy are used by youth workers to help address fears and stress that the teens of today face, (“Everthing Has Changed”). However, youth councelors must note that as opposed to the youths of yesterday teens today are facing strong emotions such as the anger associated with losing a loved one to terrorism as well as extreme solicitation from groups that may not have Christian values. Youth work is more important today than throughout the previous history of the movement.Young people throughout the United Kingdom began to leave home in search of work and life opportunities primarily in the early days of the industrial revolution in the 18th century. It was at this time in history that many began to switch focus from domestic agriculture to the age of mass production and jobs were plentiful. However, it wasn’t until the twentieth century that the British Government and affiliate agencies began to initiate programs specifically to accommodate these needs of young people.Youth work is defined by The National Youth Agency as non-formal activities that that combine enjoyment, challenge, learning and achievement, (The National Youth Agency). “Youth work provides for young people’s wellbeing and development in all its various forms – intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual, (The National Youth Agency, ¶ 2).” The current programs are a result of clubs and projects established throughout the UK during the early part of the twentieth century.“State recognition dates from the outbreak of war in 1939. Around 60 per cent of young people (and there are 8,600,000 of them in England) come into contact with youth work at some point between the ages of 11 and 25. There are over 3,000 full-time youth workers, 21,000 part-time and an estimated half million volunteers, (The National Youth Agency, ¶ 3).” Youth workers find jobs in a number of different organizations including schools, youth centers and faith based groups.Youth workers do adhere to the government guidelines outlined in Every Child Matters, a government document which states that children essientially have the right to be healthy, be safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution to society and achieve economic wellbeing. It is up to the youth worker to help teens achieve these goals. To do this youth workers take on varing roles. Typical jobs associated with youth work include managing and administering to youths as well as various community projects.Youth workers are in charge of addressing the needs of young people and planning and delivering projects and programs to accommodate those needs. These programs may address a number of teen needs such as health, fitness, smoking, drinking and drugs, even more complicated issues such as dealing with bullies or abusive relationships. Programs to meet these needs often include art activities, community and environmentally related projects, clean-up or other residential activities and outdoor education and sports. These activities are fun and help build positive relationships between teens and their peers as well as with youth workers. It is essiential that youth workers befriend the teens in their program so that they can mentor, counsel and encourage youth to get involved in social activites.Youth workers also recruit and train staff and volunteers, conduct administrative tasks including background checks and responding to queries. A youth worker may have to network with police, social services and schools and other agencies on behalf of teens. In generally a youth worker will act as an advocate for teens and this could include working with parents and various others from the community. And one of the most important tasks that youth workers may have to completre is identifing and securing sources of income for projects. To do this a youth worker must have a working knowledge of how to draw up a business plan, write various reports and make formal presentations to prospective partners.According to The National Youth Agency philosophy young people have the right to participate in the working environment which will shape their future. “There is a growing consensus that young people have the potential and the right to create the solutions to their individual and collective futures, and increasingly central and local government have been active in promoting this and creating the conditions for it to happen, (The National Youth Agency, ¶ 4).”Work programs in the United Kingdom began in the mid ninetenth century with the start of the Young Mens Christian Associaition, the YMCA. The YMCA was founded in 1844 by George Williams, a London resident who wanted to address the spiritual and emotional needs of young men in the region. Many of the men that Williams came into contact had moved to London where were living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Williams wanted to bring back Christian values.In Britian, the youth work movement began with the institution of youth ministries and clubs. Reverend Arthur Sweatman was a major proponent for youth clubs and institutions. Sweatman’s work is part of an ensuing insurgence of youth work clubs and organizations that gave men the oppurtunity to gather socially. However, it was not long before women began to organize as well and by the late ninetenth century one such club for women began to understand the political potential of such organizations.For the adults who take part in youth ministry and other youth programs it is essiential to understand that as the world evolves so must the scope of youth projects. In a post 9/11 much has changed and young people deeply feel the aftermath.During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries youth work programs became a gathering place for young people to discuss and take action on issues such as women’s suffrage, human rights and even social dissent. Throughout the history of these clubs and organizations there has been a sense of the political power young people have when they gather and decide to take action.In conclusion, youth workers are responsible for implementing a sense of social inclusion and community responsibility into teenagers primarily between the ages of 13 through 19. By creating an atmosphere of friendship and trust youth workers befriend teens and create projects and activites that will address their specific needs, which often range from self-esteem building, health related issues and gaining work experience. Projects may include art related activities, outdoor education, community participation projects and sports. These activites are designed in conjunction with community members as well as educational program leaders and parents. Youth workers seek out funding and meet with potential sponsers as well as administer counceling to teens and act as an advocate for their interests. However, in a post 9/11 world reports indicate that teen anxiety and fear is creating pessimisim about the future of the planet. Unfortunatly teens and young adults are affected the most by this pessimism.Historically youth programs have had to address a wide spectrum of issues including war time fears and suffrage. But todays pessimisim and fear could have a dramatic affect on the future as there is a growing number of persuaive extremist groups looking to recruit impressionable young people. Furthermore, this fear and anxiety will create more fear and anxiety as young people either act out due to emotions that they can not control or giver up all together. It is up to the youth worker of todays to enstill a sense of hope in the young people of the nation in order to create positive change and help teens manage their fear and anxiety of the future.