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Providing Youth Services Through Youth/Adult Partnerships: A Review of the Literature

NCJ Number
Reaching Today's Youth Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: Spring 2000 Pages: 37-48
Rick B. Mueller; Jonathan J. Wunrow; Eric L. Einspruch
Alan M. Blankstein, Lyndal M. Bullock
Date Published
This literature review addresses the benefits of youth/adult partnerships in providing youth services and identifies keys and barriers to success.
Studies show that the most important reason to involve youth in addressing youth issues is to enhance a program's chance of success in meeting the needs of the youth and families it serves. Allowing youth to participate in the development of solutions that affect their lives encourages youth ownership of these solutions. Studies also indicate that adults need to recognize the dynamics of traditional youth/adult relationships in which youth defer to adults and adults assume the implied power that comes with age, that youth and adults need to share all work, that structural barriers to youth participation should be overcome, and that youth contributions need to be appreciated and recognized. In addition, studies show that youth and adults should practice good communication, that youth need to be involved in meaningful roles in the youth/adult partnership, and that adults need to take the time to provide youth with training and mentoring and to assist them in assuming roles traditionally reserved for adults. Barriers to youth/adult partnerships include lack of familiarity with youth/adult partnerships, unwillingness to share power, organizational culture, assuming one youth opinion represents all youth, liability concerns, token involvement, attitudinal barriers, frustration, lack of youth preparation, boring meetings, adults with condescending attitudes toward youth, transportation, adult perceptions, unfair task delegation, and lack of communication. Benefits of youth/adult partnerships are also described. 58 references and 1 table