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Malik Baker
English 102
May 12, 2014, 2014

Lost Adolescents
The three predictors of youth violence range from social circumstances, economic status,
and most importantly the environment in which these adolescents develop. It is clear that the
government does not have effective programs nor have they conducted effective research in
regards to understanding those truly affected by youth violence. Looking back to the main
reasoning for this research, one of the more prominent issues in the United States is youth
violence. The future of our Country is determined by those who are still learning about
themselves today. In more areas than one, these young minds are participating in criminal
activity at young ages due to economic status, social circumstances, and the harsh environments
they find themselves in. In order to prevent this from continuing the government must create new
ideas that target these three predictors. Knowing the cause of an issue is the first step to finding a
solution. I will state my three claims, and present evidence as to why the government has yet to
affectively target these predictors and ultimately impact youth violence.
The government has yet to create programs or solutions that impact the social
circumstances of at risk youth. As far as social circumstances, I am referring to sex, age, race or
all three. All of which can place an individual in an immediate disadvantage. When considering
the race of a youth, usually if they are a minority it is clear that in our society they are placed at
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an immediate disadvantage due to the color of their skin. As far as the sex of an individual this
can determine what obstacles they face socially as well, in regards to gender profiling, or trying
to live up to gender roles created by our society. The final aspect of social circumstances age, as
an individual grows so does the impact they make on our society whether positive or negative.
The standard for effective programs are simple, results, change, and progression. The
Government has not yet created programs that not only fail to meet the standards but also allow
the youth to remove themselves from social circumstances that create issues but actually offer an
incentive into doing so. One of the more dominant causes for a young individual into acting
violently has to be gangs. Finding them in a social setting where security and protection is hard
to find, it is consistent with theory that the young minorities will seek solace in gang life. The
ideas of security and protection in a social setting, is the right for an individual to be who they
are, worry free, from the dangers presented in certain areas that are affected by these issues
severely. When reviewing Dale Manns article titled Can We Help Dropouts: Thinking about
the Undoable he writes, it is clear that the government has the necessary funding to offer at
risk youth an alternative to the norm (Mann). In 2011 in the state of New Mexico 74,000 males
ranging from 15-18 acted in a violent matter which resulted in minor, serious, or fatal outcomes
(CDC). The Center for Dieses and Prevention website focuses on the idea that this rate is so high
due to the lack of alternative offered towards young children who are considered to be at risk. If
some sort of effective program was implemented than these adolescents would not seek to find
closure in violent acts. The government has the ability to prevent youth violence and juvenile
rates from rising, but they continue to target the minority, and incarcerate the incarceration
statistics of these youth, rather than offering effective alternatives. This is an example of the
government failing to produce programs or help to socially challenged youth. According to the
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Office of Justice Programs for a simple assault black and Latino youth ranging from 10-17 are
placed in juvenile holding on a first offense more than five times a Caucasian youth. It is clear
from this statistic alone that not only are the minorities frequently involved in these altercations
but there is nothing being done to prevent a second act or another child from doing the same.
Rather than offering jail time as the primary punishment, and displaying to the next batch of
adolescents finding themselves in the same predicament. It would be in the best interest of inner
cities to find another solution one that gives these kids the opportunity to better themselves
outside of a jail cell. Solutions could range from offering more community outreach programs
that focus on the needs and the issues a unique individual may have. This will offer the youth a
place of solitude and protection from everyday issues and dangers in the inner city streets. Young
boys are forced to defend their man hood in our gender oriented society, and the majority of
these inner city youths grow in single mother homes. This leads to the quick search for a father
figure, and brotherhood, leading these kids to become violent gang members. Offering mentoring
programs that allow these young men to grow into productive citizens has been implemented but
has not expanded into a more affective system.
The government may counter my claim by stating that they have offered programs for
socially at risk youth. And by socially, we speak in terms of race, religion, sex, gender, or all
four. A flaw in my argument from the perspective of the government is the idea that only the
minorities are targeted, and the majorities are not affected by the given issues. It is clear that the
majority, does not face the same economic struggles an inner city minority family may face.
Which is my argument, but this can still be justified by the evidence presented. Minorities are
not the majorities in graduation or employed rates, but rather incarceration and death. The
alarming statistics must be considered. At some point it must be said that although there are
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many, the socially disadvantaged are in what is, as of today, a never ending cycle of struggle and
incarceration or death.
My second claim to effectively defend my argument is the fact that the government has
not yet created programs to effectively protect at risk youth economically. This is in regards to
funding for personal sustainment, education, and health. Programs have not been created to
empower youth financially, by this I mean programs that offer at risk youth a way to provide
money legally rather than resulting in criminal and violent activities in order to survive. The
government does not clearly see that if some money was spent into creating jobs for at risk youth
it would also positively affect the economy. The correlation between poverty, financial
sustainability, and violent behavior is highly significant. In a survey I have issued, I asked young
adults, attendees of the University of New Mexico, who were once inner city kids if being poor
pushed them to the idea of selling drugs or robbing someone who was clearly wealthy, 90% of
the 20 said yes. This is not an excuse for violent behavior, but if something is going to happen
because of reasons that could be prevented, shouldnt these issues be resolved long before the
sentencing? In my many attempts to find government programs allowing at risk youth to join
programs to learn and gain money legally, I have found very few. But according to the CDC
there is enough funding specifically for youth violence prevention that is being used in ways that
have yet to be proven effective, but still continue on, specific titles for the programs were not
listed but the site classifies them as programs that offer inner city students to earn cash by
attending school regularly, and maintain a un-specified GPA. The previously mentioned program
has potiental to be highly affective but the fact it is not known nationally, or offered to more
specific demographics it has yet to be proven affective. The disappearance of work has
adversely affected not only individuals, families, and neighborhoods, but the social life of the
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city at large as well (Wilson). The previous quote is form WJ Wilson and his belief on how the
inability of creating jobs, not only to adults but offering opportunities for youth ages 16-19 to
contribute to households legally, is not only affecting the economy but is drastically changing
the course of everyday life in the more ghetto areas.
To counter my claim the government may claim that programs have been created to
protect at risk youth economically, such as WIC, EBT, Financial aid, and government funding.
But in fact the previously mentioned programs, such as WIC and EBT do not go specifically to
the youth, and fail to bring families above poverty. Financial aid, beneficial in most cases, but is
given only to college students. These at risk individuals may find themselves struggling to find a
way to graduate from high school. So financial aid, does not benefit the youth immediately but
rather those who are fortunate enough to find themselves in a position to become a college
student. Certain programs have been created to benefit these at risk youth economically and
their families as well. It can be argued that the government should be held responsible for the
lack of financial security in low income families. But what has been proven to work in the past
should be furthered and advanced to better the now, and future.
My third and final claim deals with the idea that the government has yet to clean
troubled neighborhoods that at risk youth find themselves stuck in. This results into the idea that
the government has yet to develop programs or effective plans to better the environments that
these at risk youth find themselves stuck in. A prime example of this is the city of Chicago,
neighborhoods are full of drugs and gang violence, destroying the lives of adolescents, and
sadly ending them daily. The government does little to clean and prevent problem areas from
continuing to grow in power and causing more deaths. This in extension will lead to a higher
need in police activity. The startling truth of the matter is that In the first eight weeks of 2013,
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there were 52 homicides, with 15 victims between the ages of 13 and 19, according to a RedEye
analysis of preliminary crime data (The red Lin Project). This proves that in recent times the
homicides caused by youth violence and gang altercations are still there. According to Randy
Borum, in his report in regards to youth violence Assessing Violence Risk among Youth he
summarizes that the government has the ability to eliminate risk factors for violent behavior
among children and adolescents (Borum). He is referring to the ability of the government to
minimize youth violence, homicide, and poverty by funding more programs that have been
proven to work. Also offering more funding to research the ongoing issue of gang violence and
their ability to overpower the authorities. Assuming this is true, and money is spent to protect
and go to war in foreign countries would it be too drastic to assume we need powerful force to
protect our futures in these violent cities.
The government may claim that they have created programs aim to prevent drugs from
entering neighborhoods or gang activity from continuing. By enforcing more patrols in these
areas, and focusing more so on gang units than any other ongoing issue. But the sad fact is
although little change is being made, thousands of kids will still be killed by others who were
once prime candidates of success but found them forced to continue down the wrong path. The
government may also claim that it would take more man power and put more officers at risk, but
my ideas and arguments arent calling for law enforcement to risk their lives more so than they
already do, but to enforce the law more than they do. They have a job, which is to protect and
serve; this is a given right to every citizen of our great nation. The cities government and local
law enforcement should make this a priority, as it is their duty to protect their people, and
eliminate any threats. Solutions that will benefit both sides could range from a set curfew for the
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more dangerous areas; this will separate the innocent from the individual who seek harm. This in
result will not only protect the youth from harm but the community as a whole.
In conclusion we can see that more is needed to be done. Understanding the key three
predictors of youth violence should ultimately enable the government to reduce the issue
drastically. But my argument has proven that enough has yet to be done. As we stand by youth
find one way paths to jail, or death the government is not doing enough to stop this.
Works Cited
redlineproject. March 2013. April 2014. <redlineproject.org/gunyouthviolence.php>.
Goverment, US. CDC. June 2013. Internet. April 2014.
<www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05271>.
Can we help dropouts: Thinking about the undoable." The Teachers College Record 87.3
(1986): 307-323
Borum, Randy. "Assessing violence risk among youth." Journal of clinical psychology 56
(2000).
Reese, Le'Roy E., et al. "A qualitative investigation of perceptions of violence risk factors
in low-income African American children." Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 30.2 (2001):
161-171.