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: Reading Between the Lines

By Karen Pittman, April 2000

Over the past few months I have amassed a stack of newspaper articles about youth — not so much by design as by lack of cleanliness. Some of the saves, like the January 16 New York Times Magazine feature, “Schools are not the Answer,” were no-brainers. Any good youth advocate would frame the cover based on the title alone. Others, however, were less obvious:

2000-04-01
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.

2000-03-01
Youth Today: Keeping our Eyes on the Prize

By Karen Pittman, February 2000

The new millennium is upon us. Reflection is required. What have we accomplished over the past few decades? We have pushed the public goals for all youth from problem-management to problem-prevention to promoting development (meaning problem-free and fully prepared). We are moving more forcefully the idea that fully prepared is not enough — that young people must be fully participating. We’ve strengthened our links with the goals and strategies of our “sister” fields — early childhood development, community development, economic development and family development. Most would agree that the changes in the last 40 years of youth policy and practice have been positive and significant.

2000-02-01
Youth Today: Youth Engagement

By Karen Pittman, November 1999

Youth participation for youth development. Youth participation for community change. Different goals with different strategies, maybe even different proponents and results. This is a critical distinction that I, for one, have been slow to grasp. A data-inspired exercise helped me understand the importance of this distinction.

1999-11-01
Youth Today: Small is Essential

By Karen Pittman, October 1999

Construction of a new 5,000-student high school in Los Angeles was halted last month because someone discovered that is was being built on a toxic site. Because of land scarcity, it turns out that this is a problem in big cities across the country.

1999-10-01
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.

1999-09-01
Youth Today: Tipping Toward Youth Development

By Karen Pittman, July 1999

A National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence? Having once headed the now defunct President’s Crime Prevention Council, I was chagrined to see President Clinton propose another campaign in the midst of the youth violence debate.

1999-07-01
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.

1999-06-01
Youth Today: Building an Alliance Building

By Karen Pittman, May 1999

It’s May — an important time for America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth. Its second Report to the Nation is due. Questions abound as the organization enters its third year, especially since it repealed its own sunset law in order to keep the doors open past 2000. Is there real promise to America’s Promise? Can it forge a real alliance for youth?

1999-05-01
Youth Today: Affordable, Accessible, Appropriate

By Karen Pittman, April 1999

Reduced Crime. Averted pregnancies. Improved grades. Reassured parents. Engaged youth. That’s five good reasons to support after-school programming for children and youth. We do not need more research to document what every parent knows: Our youth need caring people to talk to, safe places to go, healthy possibilities to explore. To the extent that we aggressively provide them with these basic supports, we increase the chances that youth stay on the paths that we lay out for them. To the extent that we leave these things to chance, or put the full burden for arranging and paying for these supports on parents, we increase the chances that youth problems will increase and youth preparation will suffer.

1999-04-01