Karen Pittman's Youth Today Columns

Karen Pittman, executive director of the Forum, used to regularly write a column for Youth Today, the newspaper on youth work. This archive includes articles from her entire stint writing for Youth Today and covers a variety of topics related to children and youth.

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Youth Today: Paint By Numbers

By Karen Pittman, April 2001

Technology doesn’t always improve lives or even save time. So I’m always delighted to find quiet ways in which technology is making a positive difference.

2001-04-01
Youth Today: Leave No Child (or Youth or Family) Behind

By Karen Pittman, March 2001

Advocates for broader supports for children, youth and families have a common focal point: President George Bush’s Tax Cut proposal1. Hailed by some surprising allies (such as economist Robert Samuelson2) as an appropriate response to ward off a “bust” by giving the wealthy some of their money back, the Tax Cut proposal has met considerable resistance from advocates, economists and even the wealthy3, as chronicled by Connect for Kids4.

2001-03-01
Youth Today: Striving to Succeed, Daring to Fail

By Karen Pittman, February 2001

The achievement gap between young black and white Americans is like the Energizer Bunny: It keeps going and going and going. And there are latent fears about whether the achievement gap can be closed.

2001-02-01
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.”

2001-01-01
Youth Today: Responsibilities and Reasons

By Karen Pittman, November 2000

Rights. By international standards, U.S. youth advocates don’t talk much about rights. There are recurring discussions of lapses in children’s rights. There are discussions of youth problems, many of which stem from basic injustices grounded in race and poverty. There are groups that have worked with young people to create versions of Children’s Rights or Youth Rights Bill (e.g., Girls Inc., the National Children’s Rights Alliance, the Children’s Defense Fund). There is a concern that young people do not exercise their right to vote. But there is relatively little discussion about participation as a right.

2000-11-01
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:

2000-10-01
Youth Today: Back to School Shopping

By Karen Pittman, September 2000

It’s back to school time. Reform is in the air. Increasingly, students and families are being offered more choices: Magnet schools, charter schools, CBO schools, small schools, schools-within-schools. But many students are walking into the dinosaur of comprehensive high schools that lack character, focus and connections with their students or their communities. These are the schools where few youths actively choose to be; they are assigned. In the suburbs and affluent neighborhoods, these schools will serve as places to mark time for the college-bound.

2000-09-01
Youth Today: Private Competition, Public Confusion

By Karen Pittman, July 2000

The staff at the International Youth Foundation-US (now the Forum for Youth Investment) spend a lot of time in meetings — other people’s meetings. Occasionally, these meetings spark distinct emotions. Last month’s meetings left us humbled, angry and embarrassed.

2000-07-01
Youth Today: Making the Case: Linking Youth Development and Positive Psychology

By Karen Pittman, June 2000

Now and then you have the unsettling experience of hearing your thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth. This is the experience I had when I listened recently to Dr. Martin Seligman, president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and force majeur behind the emerging discipline of “positive psychology.” He described a journey simultaneously different from but parallel to mine.

2000-06-01
Youth Today: Youth Development’s Imagination Failure

By Karen Pittman, May 2000

Imagination is a powerful thing. One of the biggest failings of youth development advocates (myself included) is that we fail to capture the imagination of policy makers, funders, the public and even parents. These decision makers have difficulty imagining what youth development is. And when they do imagine what they want in place for youth — mentoring, service, after-school programs, sports leagues, reproductive health counseling, job training, violence prevention — youth advocates do not consistently capture their attention or their resources.

2000-05-01