Defining ‘youth’


On the surface, it may seem obvious or common sense to define the term ‘youth.’ A youth is a young person, right?

A while back, I had the opportunity to attend a Critical Youth Work course, a professional development certificate offered to Ontario youth workers with the space to engage in critical dialogue and learning about the political, social and economic realities that characterize youth work. When the topic of defining youth, and what age group youth belong to, came up, there were varying opinions and some uncertainty among participants.

In a room of about twenty youth workers, we could not come up with, or agree on, a concise definition of ‘youth.’ Something that often appears to be common sense, and a label we frequently use carelessly, left us puzzled when it was presented to us through a critical lens. Defining ‘youth’