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Youth Today Columns

Below you'll find a list of Karen Pittman's Youth Today columns. Click on a title to view the full column.

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.

Publishing Date: 
March 1, 2000

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:

Publishing Date: 
April 1, 2000

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.

Publishing Date: 
May 1, 2000

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.

Publishing Date: 
June 1, 2000

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.

Publishing Date: 
July 1, 2000

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.

Publishing Date: 
September 1, 2000

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:

Publishing Date: 
October 1, 2000

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.

Publishing Date: 
November 1, 2000