The fundamental aim of youth work is to build trusting and mutually respectful relationships with young people, creating transformative experiences for young people in formal and informal spaces outside of homes and schools. These complex and multidimensional situations mean that the day-to-day work of youth workers is full of dilemmas, pitting moral, developmental, motivational, organizational, and other concerns against each other.
By showing how different youth workers respond to a variety of such dilemmas, this authentic text makes visible youth workers’ unique knowledge and skills, and explores how to work with challenging situations – from the everyday to the extraordinary. Beginning by setting out a framework for dilemma resolution, it includes a number of narrative-based chapters, in which youth workers describe and reflect on dilemmas they have faced, the knowledge and experiences they brought to bear on them and alternative paths they could have taken. Each chapter closes with a discussion from the literature about themes raised in the chapter, an analysis of dilemma and a set of overarching discussion questions designed to have readers compare and contrast the cases, consider what they would do in the situation, and reflect on their own practice.
Teaching us a great deal about the norms, conventions, continuities, and discontinuities of youth work, this practical book reveals essential dimensions of the profession and contributes to a practice-based theoretical foundation of youth work.
1. Becoming a Youth Worker 2. Learning to 'Read': Cultivating Ecological Intelligence 3. Navigating Inexperience: How Reflection Guides Practice for a Novice Youth Worker 4. Balancing High Expectations, Program Structure, and Youth Realities: Making Kids Fit the Program or the Program Fit the Kids 5. Balancing Conflicting Values from Home, a Youth Organization, and the Community: Keeping Youth Wellbeing at the Center of Youth Work 6. Youth Worker and Organizational Responses to Risky Behavior and Dangerous Situations 7. Balancing Youth Privacy with the Youth Worker's Need for Information: The Importance of Organizational Support in Dilemma Resolution 8. Activating Personal Knowledge to Balance the Needs of High-risk Youth with the Safety of Others in the Program 9. 'When I Heard Who it Was, I Knew it Wasn't a Real Gun': 'Reading' the Context to Maintain Safety 10. 'Do They Think We're Not in Charge?': Addressing Dilemmas that Arise in a Social Justice Youth Development Approach 11. Cross-cutting Themes and Implications for Youth Worker Professional Development