Many Georgetown area youth are “at-risk children” whose lives have gotten out of control; they may be using drugs and alcohol, acting out in defiance, running away, or have dropped out of school. These young people may be getting into trouble with the law (under aged drinking, vandalism, or running away). Youth may not be involved with any illegal activity, but still considered “at-risk”. For example, a girl may have gotten pregnant and not know which way to turn. A young man whose father is in prison may have been sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend when he was younger and too ashamed to tell anyone. There are literally thousands of factors that would create an “at-risk youth”.
These struggling youth may have gotten mixed up in a suburban gang (gang “wannabees”) and they care more about the acceptance from their peers than they do about their future. They know they are heading in the wrong direction, but don’t care. The acceptance of their peers is way too important.
An at-risk youth is any young person who is involved in things that can ruin their life, or even end it. They may not even realize what shape they are in and that they need help. Some at-risk youth may be involved with drugs, but not all at-risk youth are abusing substances. At-risk youth may simply be immature teenagers who feel entitled – meaning, their parents have provided everything they want and the child is simply spoiled (demanding, selfish, self-centered, lazy, and irresponsible).
At-risk youth are often channeled to programs with reduced expectations for performance, especially academic performance. Research strongly suggests that effective youth programs establish and maintain high expectations and standards for all participants and focus on helping them meet those expectations. At-risk youth often exhibit a lack of, but a strong need for, success.
With clear goals and objectives provided by effective programs, such as those provided by CHR, at-risk youth can move toward and achieve measurable success in life.