Karen Pittman (left), President and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, has a saying about working with teens that’s worth repeating: "Problem-free is not fully prepared."
How does that apply to teens in the alcohol and drug treatment, or kids in the juvenile justice system?
Focusing just on helping teens get sober or crime-free isn’t enough. Like other teens, they have developmental needs they need to meet to be successful. They need support and opportunities to grow their social skills, emotional skills, navigational skills … competencies that are key to growing up and becoming contributing adults.
How do young people build those skills? They need to be connected with caring adults, in places where they can practice those skills with appropriate feedback.
The trouble is, as Ms. Pittman explained in a brief video interview (see below) that we did with her at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute in May, most efforts to help kids succeed are focused primarily on educational and vocational skills. These are critical, but the trick is to find the caring adults and the places where teens can build and practice those "soft" skills.
Check out what she has to say:
- Karen Pittman: Helping Teens Beat the Odds Is Not Enough (Video)
- Karen Pittman on Positive Youth Development and Teens in the Juvenile Justice System (Video)
- Positive Youth Justice – a Model for Building Assets in the Juvenile Justice System