Children in Chaos: How Israel and the United States Attempt to Integrate At-Risk Youth

Children in Chaos: How Israel and the United States Attempt to Integrate At-Risk Youth

Children in Chaos: How Israel and the United States Attempt to Integrate At-Risk Youth

Children in Chaos: How Israel and the United States Attempt to Integrate At-Risk Youth

Synopsis

There is a noted connection between youth who come from dysfunctional families and have low academic skills, vague or nonexistent career goals, poor work history, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Frank explains the need for longer term alternative educational programs in highly supportive environments for high-risk youth. He describes the features and coverage of programs in Israel and in some American cities that have rehabilitated high-risk youth. But without more support, and especially money, more youth in the U.S. will fall into a cycle of failure.

Excerpt

At a Jewish Educators' Conference in 1991, I sat and listened in amazement to a report about a prestigious Conservative Hebrew camp. On that day, a special recommendation was being made to discreetly attach social workers to the units of all the summer camps, since in recent years family and other socioemotional issues relating directly to the campers' lives had arisen. The situations were so serious that Jewish counselors and directors could not handle them. A few weeks later, I read an article by a director of a Reform Jewish youth camp who wrote, "When I started my career in camping (1974), the words "youth" and "suicide" were rarely used in the same breath. Now we instruct every youth worker in the detection of the all toocommon-signs and symptoms of children at risk" (Dobin 1991, 37).

In 1976, I had already discovered a group of street youth atrisk in South Tel Aviv. They would not enter a lavish looking community center for recreation, choosing instead to hang out in the streets nearby, sometimes causing damage to the public property on the street or to the center itself. The city of Tel Aviv had to assign a social worker to them as well; the community center's director, Yitzchak, told me that I should make every effort to attach myself to them and convince them to participate in the community center's activities. Soon after, I did learn that Youth Aliyah, a national agency, had successfully absorbed immigrant youth into Israeli society from Nazi-held . . .

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