Defining ‘youth’

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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’

Youth citizenship: An intersectional analysis

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Given the nature of citizenship, and it historical, social and political contentions, there remains a lack of consensus on what constitutes citizenship. The legal definition of citizenship defines the term as the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country, with elements such as a passport, or a national identity.

However, citizenship can also be conceptualized as a process that gives ways to relations of power and inequality within a given society that is “contingent upon the subordination of specific bonds of gender, race, class,” which shape the experience of the individual citizen. [1] In short, citizenship is the individual’s relationship with the wider society; it claims who belongs where, who has obligations, who benefits from rights, and who is entitled to services. [3]

Youth: “Citizens of Tomorrow, but Not Today”?

Youth citizenship: An intersectional analysis

Meaningful youth engagement: Multiple contexts, multiple realities, multiple approaches

Meaningful youth engagement

“Meaningful youth engagement is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respectful partnership between youth and adults whereby power is shared, respective contributions are valued, and young people’s ideas, perspectives, skills, and strengths are integrated into the design and delivery of programs, strategies, policies, funding.” – YouthPower Meaningful youth engagement: Multiple contexts, multiple realities, multiple approaches

Critical youth work

41726438_thumbnail-e1440623155661Historically, the primary focus of youth work has been on risk prevention and rehabilitation, such as delinquency and drug addiction, and to keep youth off the streets, known as a person-centered approach. [3] Such an approach has led to service providers to regard young people as problems requiring a solution or intervention. Critical youth work

From tokenism to authentic youth involvement

Youth engagement has gained a lot of momentum in many fields that work closely with young people, including youth programs and services, youth organizations, schools, and other institutions working to help young people thrive. 

These organizations thrive to implement youth engagement practices that capture the voice of young people they serve. While it is important to recognize the importance of youth engagement, the issue of youth tokenism remains an important issue in the field of youth work. 

What is youth engagement?

Youth engagement is the practise of getting young people to participate in bettering their communities and the decisions that affect their lives. The recognition of young people as important resource for systemic improvement, and as active contributors to their communities, empowers young people to get involved in responsible and challenging actions to create positive social change.[1] From tokenism to authentic youth involvement