Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Youth of the Nation

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Youth of the Nation

Article excerpt

Civic engagement, political involvement, and current affairs do not belong to an arena that is reserved for eligible voters and tax-paying adults. To exclude American youth from these subjects would be to our detriment as a society and a nation. After all, if we continue to hold to the philosophy that they are our future and will someday be responsible for this country's fate, then preparing them for that task is a high priority.

This, then, begs the question-how do we prepare them? And how do we know whether we are accomplishing what we hope to as far as youth are concerned? As Flanagan points out (Flanagan & Faison, 2001), "civic" outcomes and values have varied meanings for different groups. The civic goals and outcomes of youth programs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Boys and Girls Clubs are not always adequately defined and assessed.

Teachers in classrooms and non-formal settings, advisors to student groups, coaches, and the like will see their work as teaching civic mindedness and social values-often in relationship to concepts such as "leadership," "team work," and 44 cooperation." This makes civic engagement somewhat difficult to extrapolate and evaluate.

Flanagan points out that the National Association of Secretaries of State surveyed

American youth and found that, even though they did not seem to think they could make a difference by voting at the polls, they did find satisfaction in community volunteerism. …

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