Social Justice Youth Work: Actualizing Youth Rights

Monica McDaniel


This article explores models of prevention/intervention and positive youth development within the context of social justice. Both of these models seek to support young people, but they have vastly different methods and goals. The author argues that these models fall short of effectively supporting youth because they neglect to interrogate how power, privilege and oppressive forces shape a young person's identity and how that young person engages with society. Therefore, a new approach to working with youth is needed: a social justice youth work model. The author proposes this model as a means for youth and adults to work together to achieve a high quality of life in an equitable world. The paper outlines three steps to enact this approach with young people: 1. develop self-awareness within youth and adults; 2. build solidarity across differences; and 3. take action towards dismantling unjust systems. In order to do this work successfully, adults must first interrogate their own motivations for engaging in social justice work with youth.

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