Inner city teenagers in North Philadelphia identified education and employment opportunities as the most important factors that would help them achieve a positive future. While acknowledging the risks existing in a high-poverty urban environment, the teens presented an optimistic view that solutions offered by education, jobs and interaction with involved adults could help them succeed in life.
"This study carries strong messages about the hopes and strengths of inner-city youth," said Kenneth R. Ginsburg, M.D., M.S. Ed., a pediatrician in The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphias Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine. He is lead author of the study, reported in two articles in the June issue of Pediatrics. "The adults who requested the survey originally assumed that the main concerns of urban teenagers would be avoiding teen pregnancy and violence. We designed a survey to directly ask teenagers what they thought."
Approximately 1,750 8th, 9th and 12th graders participated in the survey, led by researchers from The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and the Urban Initiative of the City of Philadelphia. A series of small focus groups allowed youths to generate all the ideas on the survey and later, to explain them.
The teenagers were asked what factors they believed would make the most difference in influencing whether they would have a positive future defined as growing up "feeling respected, feeling good about themselves, and capable of taking care of themselves and their loved ones." One representative comment from an 8th grade student about their priorities was, "Its all about a better education, because without an education you cant get a job, so that should be the first thing up there."
The fact that the teenagers rated supportive solutions as a higher priority than addressing risks or disruptive surroundings lends support to a theory called the "youth resiliency model," which holds that young people are more likely t
Contact: John Ascenzi
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia