Children & Youth

A hundred years from now it will not matter
what my bank account was,
the sort of house I lived in,
or the kind of car I drove;
but the world may be different,
because I was important in the life of a child. 
(Dr. Forest E. Witcraft)

Each of us must come to care about
everyone else’s children.

We must recognize that
the welfare of our children

is intimately linked to the welfare of
all other people’s children….

To worry about all other people’s children
is not just a practical or strategic matter;
it is a moral and ethical one;
to strive for the well-being of
all other people’s children is also right.
(Lilian G. Katz, international leader in Early Childhood Education)

As a society, we must join together to meet kids essential needs. 
There are countless ways that each one of us can get involved,
right in our communities where we live,
where we work, where we know kids by name. 
(General Colin L. Powell, Founding Chairman, America's Promise)

  • "Research shows that children who know where they came from are more resilient.  They are able to handle problems, do better in school and better socially, because they know they are part of something larger than themselves," said Helen Jackson Graham, English professor.  Helen is the Houston area Freedmen's Bureau coordinator, and has 20 years of experience in African American genealogical research.  Help them recognize they are part of one human family.  Help them discover who they are, where they came from, discover their family stories, and to feel connected and bound to their families through generations.  (Source:  Reuniting the Black Family:  Volunteers Index Freedmen's Bureau Records, by Linda Talbot, LDS Church News, November 4, 2015)    



  • More young men are killed each day on the streets of America than on the worst day of carnage and loss in Iraq.  There is a war at home raging every day, filling our trauma centers with so many wounded children that it sometimes makes Baghdad seem like a quiet city in Iowa.  (John P. Pryor, Trauma program director, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Washington Post, August 2007)  
  • One in five young people lives in poverty, and more than one in four lives in a single-parent home and is left unsupervised for substantial blocks of time on a regular basis.
  • Youth who are involved in service just one hour or more a week are half as likely to engage in a variety of negative behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, vandalism, and school truancy.  (The National Coalition for Youth)  
Statistics
  • Less than half of U.S. children under the age of 18 live in “traditional” family households consisting of two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.

    There is a drastic shift in the composition of U.S. households in recent decades. In 1960, nearly three-quarters (73%) of children lived in “traditional” households, while only 46% do today. This Pew Research Center data shows that the American family structure has become more complicated, with more than one-third (34%) of U.S. children being raised by a single parent.

    Americans are pushing back old “ideals” of family structure by delaying or rebuking marriage from a young age. 

    41% of children are now being born outside of marriage altogether – up from just 5% in 1960.

    Fifteen percent of children today live with two parents who have been remarried, while 34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent.   (Poll:  Less than Half of U.S. Children Born into 'Traditional' Households, CBS Washington DC, December 29, 2014) 

What You Can Do
  • Support:  Spokane's Promise:  The Alliance for Youth
Spokane's children are owed a safe community, a nurturing environment where all kids can become connected to the resources they need to live healthy, and fulfilling lives as caring and competent citizens.   

The Alliance for Youth is committed to mobilize people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of our nation's youth.  (Alma Powell, Colin Powell's wife, Chairman)  

The following Five Promises were developed by this program:  

Five Promises to Our Children
  • Caring Adults
  • Safe Places and Constructive Activities
  • A Healthy Start and Future
  • Effective Education for Marketable Skills
  • Opportunities to Serve
  • Teach children to research their family history.  Help them recognize they are part of one human family.  Help them discover who they are, where they came from, discover their family stories, and to feel connected and bound to their families through generations.  "Research shows that children who know where they came from are more resilient.  They are able to handle problems, do better in school and better socially, because they know they are part of something larger than themselves," said Helen Jackson Graham, English professor.  Helen is the Houston area Freedmen's Bureau coordinator, and has 20 years of experience in African American genealogical research.  (Source:  Reuniting the Black Family:  Volunteers Index Freedmen's Bureau Records, by Linda Talbot, LDS Church News, November 4, 2015)    



  • Organize youth service projects.  Boys and girls enjoy social interaction while working together on service projects.   
  • Help provide Christmas for foster or homeless children, or children of prison inmates.
  • Make an investment in kids.  Invest in early childhood programs on a personal level by volunteering at local agencies such as the crisis nursery, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), or the food bank.  
  • Plan a day when adults and young people can come together, plan together, and spend time working together.  
If you can -
Skip a stone
Sip a milkshake
Throw a Frisbee
Listen to music
Read a book out loud
Watch a movie
Sit on a park bench and talk
Visit a zoo
Shoot hoops
Ride a bike
Hit a bucket of golf balls
Then you can change a life by just being a friend.
   (Mentor Michigan Program Partner)


  • Identify and reduce risk factors, and identify and increase protective factors.
Strengthening youth comes by strengthening communities.  In order to lower crime, unwanted teen pregnancies and illegal drug use, our community must work together with families and schools to provide better programs for our youth.

Scare tactics do not promote good behavior. 
It is through providing opportunities for active involvement, teaching children the skills they need for successful participation, positive reinforcement for good behaviors, setting clear standards and creating strong bonds that individuals are able to foster good results...and that puts kids on a more positive development path and produces better outcomes.  It is through promoting positive behaviors, rather than telling youth what not to do, that the biggest changes have occurred.  The advances in prediction have been the identification of risk factors that promote or predict adolescent behaviors, as well as the identification of protective factors that, when present, buffer children from the development of problem behaviors - even in the face of risk. 

Some of the risk factors exist within communities or neighborhoods where children grow up.  Part of the solution is identifying the highest risk factors specific to families, schools and individuals in a community, and taking preventative measures, before the negative behavior occurs.    

Risk factors for delinquency and substance abuse also predict school drop-out, unwanted teen pregnancies, violent behavior and even the internalizing problems in some cases of depression and anxiety - identifying targets of preventive education and things that need to be strengthened if we want to enhance protective factors.  

There are also risk factors that exist within families and their interactions, within school settings as well as within individuals.

If your goal is working together to help children...
you will get massive returns for every dollar you spend.  It is through involving parents, schools and entire communities in creating a plan of action that the best results occur.  

Dr. Hawkins' program "Communities That Care"
is a coalition-based community prevention operating system that uses a public health approach to prevent youth problem behaviors and is available online.   (J. David Hawkins, Professor at the University of Washington, Marjorie Pay Hinckley lecture at BYU, Deseret News, "Communities Matter in Shaping Lives of Youth Today,"  February 18, 2012)  
Local Organizations
Additional Resources
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