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2,083 Youth Today: Supports, Opportunities and Services

By Karen Pittman, October 2000

I like to coin phrases — simple ways of saying things that help people remember important concepts. Years ago I coined, “Supports, Opportunities and Services,” or S.O.S. Young people need steady doses of all three. They need services: Healthcare, housing, transportation, crisis intervention, instruction, financial assistance, public spaces — things provided for them. They need supports:

5,335 Youth Today: Taking Risks for Transition-Age Youth

On any given day, scores of young people with limited individual and social capital are simultaneously struggling to exit some systems and enter others: foster care, residential treatment centers, higher education, mental health programs, gainful employment.

2,271 Youth Today: The 8 R's: Building Community Within Schools

By Karen Pittman, June 1999

“Shoelace monitor.” This is the new job that a group of four-year-olds asked their teacher to post so they could apply. Their logic: Lots of kids still can’t tie their shoes well. The teacher spends time tying shoes, straining her back and cutting into playground time. The solution: Certify lace tie-ers to help.

2,049 Youth Today: The Algebra of Development

By Karen Pittman, July 1998

“Youth development is what you’d do for your own kid on a good day. We don’t need a fancy definition to know what to do.” This practical advice was offered recently by Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League. He’s right. We don’t need a fancy definition. We need a functional equation.

2,343 Youth Today: The Black Table

By Karen Pittman, May 1998

Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? This question was the theme of a paper I wrote 25 years ago for a psych class at Oberlin College — the first white college to admit blacks. It was a question I was asked frequently, as one who was not always, or even often at the “black” table. It was one of my daughter’s key queries when she came home on her first break from Oberlin three years ago, and the theme of a talk I just gave to the prospective students of color being courted by my alma mater. It is also the title of a recent book, written by a Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a black female psychologist, teacher, trainer and advocate who happens to be my cousin. Clearly this is a longstanding question in my family. But it is not just my family.

1,874 Youth Today: The Cost of Being Certain

By Karen Pittman, September 1998

Certainty, not cost, is what undergirds public support for measures that lock teens away for life. And certainty, not cost, is the key to any effort to build sustainable community resources to support youth development.

Cost-effectiveness research is certainly important: Showing the short-term and long-term benefits of investment, the benefits of investing in one strategy over another, the benefits of doing something versus nothing. But in the end it is certainty that is needed.

1,831 Youth Today: The Education Dilemna

By Karen Pittman, November/December 1996

Vindicated. Academic competence really is not enough. Japanese students have it. Yet Japanese business and civic leaders are looking for more.

3,005 Youth Today: The Importance of Family

By Karen Pittman, March 2000

My mom died in early February. The death of a parent is cause for much reflection. In my case, this reflection has reaffirmed the importance of family — an institution that we in youth work are often accused of slighting, if not intentionally sidestepping.

2,489 Youth Today: The Message May Be the Medium

By Karen Pittman, January 2001

“Has Sarah lost her mind?” This quote — referring to Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) — opened a Washington Post story about a provocative series of public service advertisements launched by the campaign. The ads, developed to spark conversation among teens about the possible consequences of sex, feature controversial words printed in large letters across pictures of young people. The words are embedded in small-print sentences like: “Condoms are CHEAP. If we’d used one, I wouldn’t have to tell my parents I’m pregnant.”

11,370 Youth Today: The Power of Engagement

By Karen Pittman, September 1999

“Problem-free isn’t fully prepared.” I coined this phrase more than a decade ago to explain quickly to diverse audiences the fundamental difference between the goals of prevention and preparation, and the practices of working from strengths rather than addressing deficits. It stuck. I have threatened to have bumper stickers made, but haven’t.