Where are jobs for the youth?

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

School is out for the summer and students of working age are restless and looking for work to keep them busy and money for the upcoming school year. Unfortunately employment is not as plentiful as one would like to expect. I have spoken to many students who are disappointed at the unavailability of   summer jobs. I can remember growing up when there were grants providing summer jobs for students giving them spending money to keep them busy and off of the streets. That was an ideal situation—if for no other reason, it kept students busy and out of trouble. Everyone can relate to that old adage that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. With so much idle time, many students (out of boredom) engage in illicit practices such as drugs, gang banging and theft. Studies have shown time after time, this is the pattern during the summer—often with lack of supervision and productive activities to keep students engaged.

There are many organizations, churches, and centers offering summer programs engaging students in sports, academics and one-on-one mentoring. It is a time to catch up for many students who may be trailing academically. There are numerous sports camps. That is fine and to be commended, but for many of these programs there is a price attached. Many economically disadvantaged families may not be able to afford the cost. Therefore, you find many young students left at home alone and unsupervised while the often-single parent goes to work. That’s a reality for so many families.

Many young adolescents just want a job so they can put some money in their pockets. They need to be able to utilize programs providing work enrichment at a job that will give them an opportunity to make some money. There are many students who seek work to help at home, especially those headed by a struggling single parent. Out of desperation to obtain money, many young men have succumbed to selling drugs. Although they know it is wrong, these young men do it to help pay bills at home fulfilling the role of an often missing-father whose place they feel they are taking.

If more grants or opportunities are made available for these young working age students, it is probable that the juvenile crime rate would go down tremendously. You don’t have to spent thousands of dollars for a study or hire consultants to tell us what is just common sense. I guess I’m just asking if everything is being done to provide summer employment for these able-bodied teenaged students who need work? Why can’t we make it a priority on national, state and local levels to procure summer jobs for more of our youth? By not adequately providing jobs, are the ‘powers that be’ purposely setting some of these young men up for the privatized penal system? Providing summer jobs (as well as year-round jobs) can be a ‘win’ for everybody by reducing juvenile crime and introducing and preparing our youth for what to expect as future productive citizens.