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Meeting the needs of our youth

Meeting the needs of our youth

Children’s rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman said, “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; the question is whether we can afford not to.”

When young people, especially young men, feel like outsiders on a societal level, that their families do not understand them, that they have no future and no purpose, they easily fall prey to the lies of hatred and violence, and join gangs and other extremist groups.

How do we keep this from happening?

Education is key. Young people need to be made aware of the dangers of these lifestyles and how they will be used and exploited by the very people who pretend to accept them and care for them.

In order for these programs to be effective, however, we need to meet the more basic needs of our youth. We need to accept them for who they are, celebrate their giftedness, and give them hope.

As our schools improve to meet the needs of individual children in an ever changing world, our young men especially are no longer drawn to violence.

Some may call me an idealist, but I have been working in the trenches with our at ­risk youth long enough to see that we are making a difference.

The key, therefore, to making our countries safer, to significantly reducing the threat of terror in an increasingly multi-cultural world, is not greater security. It is not in keeping out entire groups.

The key is to invest in an educational system that strives to celebrate our diversity and make sure that young people know that they are significant.

When we invest in every child, we all benefit.

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