Raising Self Esteem in At-Risk Youth: A Research Proposal
Raising Self Esteem In At-Risk Youth
This paper explains briefly the research proposal which specifically focuses on the programs proven to be effective in raising self-esteem in at-risk youth. This research proposal includes the presentation of the topic, the background of the study, the proposed objective of the study, statement of the problem, statement of hypothesis, scope and limitation, overview of the methodologies to be used, and the significance of this study.
Background of the Study
The extent to which youth are labeled at-risk varies according to different authorities from psychology, education, sociology, and other fields (Astroh, 1993). Some authorities maintain that all youth are born at high risk (Glenn & Nelsen, 1988). Others estimate that one-quarter of 10-17 year olds are at-risk Dryfoos, 1990). In more recent development, the number of youth in their high-risk years who commit offenses will increase: by 2010, 10- to 14-year-old juvenile offenders are projected to increase by about 6 percent, while ages 15 to 19 are expected to increase nearly 20 percent Brown & Sevcik, 1999).
Effective at-risk youth programs begin with determining who are going to be served. It is through them that programs determine the kinds of designs that are most appropriate for at-risk youth and the policies needed to support an effective high performance youth training system.
According to Astroh (1993), broad generalizations about youth can detract from targeted efforts to address real-not perceived-problems in local communities.
The loose definition of at-risk youth refers to those youth most likely to fail in school and the labor market. Furthermore, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act adopted by Congress defines "youth at risk" as a youth at risk of educational failure or dropping out of school or involvement in delinquent activities (Brown & Sevcik, 1999).
More specifically, there are some methods in defining at-risk youth such as the Group Characteristics and the Skill Levels (Center for Human Resources, 1993). In the first method, at-risk population is defined in terms of demographic characteristics—having low income, being black or Hispanic, having dropped out of school, or receiving welfare. More recently, behavioral characteristics such as court-involvement, teen parenting and substance abuse have been identified as additional risk factors. At-risk youth, then, are frequently defined in terms of a list of characteristics, or combinations of characteristics (CHR, 1993).
Many states depend exclusively on these kinds of demographic indicators to define the at-risk population, because of the strong research base (CHR, 1993). However, the major drawback to using only group characteristics is that when used in planning, they tend to mask the real skill issues that need to be addressed (CHR, 1993).
The Skill Levels approach defines at-risk youth in terms of specific skill deficits or levels of employability; it focuses much more specifically on skills which can be matched up more directly with employer expectations (CHR, 1993). However, some practitioners argue that a purely skill-based definition fails to take into account important social and cultural barriers to employment (CHR, 1993).
To address this problem, CHR (1993) comes up with a "hybrid" definition. Here, one might define at-risk youth as those who are dropouts, or minorities, or teen parents and who lack specific educational and/or work skills. The purpose of a hybrid definition is to gain the advantages of the skill approach - that is, targeting those with clearly specified employment skill needs while formally recognizing some of the social factors that exacerbate the risks of failure in the labor market (CHR, 1993). By including demographic and/or social characteristics, the hybrid approach may also make it easier for youth serving agencies to develop common definitions.
According to Astroh (1993), at-risk youth has become a lens through which all young people are viewed so that adolescence itself is seen today as some awful, incurable disease. As Lofquist (1992) observes, the reliance on a deficit-focused, diagnosed problem model to frame youth behavior has fostered an overly negative perspective and a limited vision. The overly negative treatment of the current generation of young people is evident in several areas (Astroh, 1993).
To meet the needs of at-risk youth, the community needs to respond by developing intervention services for them that focus on building self-esteem, alternative leisure patterns, redirecting inappropriate lifestyles or behaviors, developing personal skills, assisting with pre-employment training, development of morals and values and enhancing the quality of life through positive recreation experiences (Brown & Sevcik, 1999).
According to the Association of African American Role Models (2003), one of most overlooked qualities missing in today’s at-risk youth is the building, maintaining, and utilizing self-esteem to achieve personal growth and success. Raising low self-esteem can be a difficult process but one that is surely successful with the intervention of an effective program-- empowering and counseling at-risk youth to visualize themselves as productive members of their communities (AAARM, 2003). Moreover, teaching self-esteem becomes a process that is continued by the at-risk youth themselves as their positive and productive attitudes permeate their interactions with those around them (AAARM, 2003).
Brown and Sevcik (1999) state that recreational programs build self-esteem, self-discipline, commitment and teamwork. Moreover, Therapeutic recreation plays an important role in reaching at-risk youth (Brown & Sevcik, 1999). Similarly, the 1992 Decima Report (1992) shows that through cultural alternatives, youth essential life skills including responsibility, self-esteem, cooperation, discipline and patience are built. Cultural activity builds self-discipline and perseverance in our youth; learning to play a musical instrument, rehearsing a play or executing a mosaic mural requires long hours of practice, focus and perseverance, all components of self-discipline, a trait that many at-risk youth are desperately lacking. (Americans for the Arts, 1997)
In a more recent report by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (1999), organized youth activities can deter risky behavior in adolescents; students who participate in band, orchestra, chorus or a school play are significantly less likely than non-participants to drop out of school, be arrested, use drugs or engage in binge drinking (SasCultre, 2003).
Under this therapeutic recreational program, three methods of service are combined: Intervention, Diversion, and Prevention (Brown & Sevcik, 1999). The program involves at-risk youth in a school-directed recreational program within the community, developing an awareness of and interest in opportunities available to them outside the school day; enables them to experience fun leisure activities; and to develop healthy friendships, good sportsmanship, mentoring with individuals within the community and healthy leisure interests (Brown & Sevcik, 1999).
Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to explore the different programs which specifically aim to raise self-esteem in at-risk youth. This study will investigate the success of some programs as well as the failure of the others. To address this objective, the researcher will examine the different strategies and techniques employed in these programs. Literature shows that therapeutic recreation programs and their employment of cultural activities have a positive effect in building self-esteem. Here, case studies will be presented and afterwards, the researcher will try to find what are the areas for improvement in terms of raising self-esteem.
The researcher will also define who is an at-risk youth, as its definition is vital to the designing of an effective at-risk youth program. Further, the researcher will conduct a survey with at-risk youth in relation to their perception of the programs provided for them. A focus group discussion with those who are working with at-risk youth will also be conducted. After analyzing the results, the researcher will provide insightful recommendations in implementing an effective and successful program that would help raise at-risk youth’s self-esteem.
Statement of the Problem
This researcher finds the necessity for a study that specifically tackles how successful programs are in raising at-risk youth’s self-esteem. This study intends to know why some programs fail. This proposed research study will try to answer the following queries:
1. What are the needs of at-risk youths in a program?
2. What are the factors that affect the success and effectiveness of a program in terms of raising self-esteem in at-risk youth?
3. How effective is the therapeutic recreation program?
4. What are the measures that should be done to improve a program?
Scope and Limitation
This research study will only cover American male and female at-risk youth who are currently under a program and whose ages range from 13 to 18. Thus, the programs that will be discussed in the entire study are from the United States, although, some programs from other countries might be briefly tackled. This study will only focus on the determination of what causes a program intended to raise self-esteem in at-risk youth, to succeed or to fail. Further, this study will operate based on its definition of at-risk youth.
The outcome of this study will be limited only to the data gathered from sociology books and journals and from the primary data gathered from the result of the questionnaire survey and interview that will be conducted by the researcher.
The conclusion and recommendation will only apply to programs which specifically aims to boost self-esteem in at-risk youth. Its application to other sociological domain of helping at-risk youth will need further research.
Overview of the Methodology
For this study, primary research and secondary research will be used. Primary research will be conducted using questionnaire surveys that will be sent to randomly selected at-risk youth who are currently under a program. Through this questionnaire survey, the researcher will get to know the level of their self-esteem. The researcher will also be conducting focus group interview with the social workers who work with these youth. The researcher will try to find out how are they dealing with at-risk youth.
The questionnaires will be used to collect quantitative data and the interviews will be used to provide qualitative insights into the data collected.
As stated above, this research will partially base its findings through quantitative research methods because this permits a flexible and iterative approach. During data gathering the choice and design of methods are constantly modified, based on ongoing analysis. This allows investigation of important new issues about raising self-esteem in at-risk youth within a program and questions as they arise, and allows the investigator to drop unproductive areas of research from the original research plan.
This study will also employ qualitative research method because it will attempt to find and build theories that will explain the relationship of one variable with another variable through qualitative elements in research. Through this method, qualitative elements that do not have standard measures such as behavior, attitudes, opinions, and beliefs within the restaurants will be analyzed. Furthermore qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.
The data collection instrument will be a structured questionnaire that will be based on Likert scale. A Likert Scale is a rating scale that requires the subject to indicate his or her degree of agreement or disagreement with a statement. By rating scale we mean the scales that are usually used to measure attitudes towards an object, the degree to which an object contains a particular attribute, (Like or dislike), toward some attribute, or the importance attached to an attribute.
The focus group discussion, on the other hand, will be conducted with the consent of the administrators.
The secondary sources of data will come from published articles from Sociology journals, books and related studies on at-risk youth and programs intended to raise self-esteem in at-risk youth.
For this research design, the researcher will gather data, collate published studies from different local and foreign universities and articles from social science journals; and make a content analysis of the collected documentary and verbal material. Afterwards, the researcher will summarize all the information, make a conclusion based on the null hypotheses posited and provide insightful recommendations on the dealing with organizational management.
Significance of the Study
This study will be a significant endeavor in boosting self-esteem in at-risk youth. This study will be helpful to social workers this will serve as a guide for them when dealing with at-risk kids. By understanding the needs of these children, in terms of their self-esteem, and presenting the cause of failures of some programs, administrators will be able to design means in raising self-esteem. This could lead to the success of the program.
Americans for the Arts (1997). Arts Programs for At-Risk Youth. Available at [artsusa.org]. Accessed [23/09/03].
Association of African American Role Models [www.aaarm.org].
Astroth, K. A. (1993). Are youth at risk? Journal of Extension, Fall, Vol. 31 No. 3.
Brown, L. J. and Sevcik, K. (1999). TR for youth at risk. Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA). July/August, 33
Center for Human Resources (1993) A guide to case management for at-risk youth -- 2nd ed. Available at [graduateschool.heller.brandies.edu]. Accessed [23/09/03].
Dryfoos, J. G. (1990). Adolescents at risk: Prevalence and prevention. New York: Oxford University Press.
Glenn, S. H. and Nelsen, J. (1988). Raising self- reliant children in a self-indulgent world: Seven building blocks for developing capable young people. Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing & Communications.
Lofquist, W. A. (1992). Mental models and fundamental change: A path to human service transformation. New Designs for Youth Development, Spring, 28-33.
SasCulture, Inc. (2003). Culture reaches out to youth. Available at [www.sasculture.sk.sa]. Accessed [23/09/03].
Sport Manitoba (2003). Sports for life. Available at [sportmb.ca]. Accessed [23/09/03].
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