Adult Youth Workers’ Conceptions of Their Work in an Under-Resourced Community in the United States

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This study examined adult workers’ conceptions of their work with youth in a large, underserved, urban region in the northeastern United States. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 18 youth workers from various organizations, affiliated with a community coalition focused on substance abuse prevention, we explored how adults viewed their role of working with youth. We were particularly interested in whether these workers saw youth empowerment and collaboration with youth for community change as part of their role. Our data suggested that while workers in this study were very supportive of youth, the support and actions they provided were on behalf of rather than with them and that, in general, partnering with youth for community change was not a part of what they envisioned their work to be. While a few of the adults attempted to work more collaboratively with youth, they were clearly in the minority.



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