Should Young People Be Required Community Service?
Perhaps the greatest gift we could give to youth is that of mandatory volunteer work. Yes, it's an oxymoron “mandatory” and “voluntary,” but most young adults don't know any better to or are able to make the choice of being a volunteer or not. Not to take away from the intelligence of teenagers, but they simply do not have the life experience to know what volunteering can do for our communities. I am a teenager and I know first hand that I am not able to make the smartest decisions. Nor do I know what I will get back in return.
Today’s teenagers have excellent “taking” or “give me” skills, but extremely poor giving skills. “Mom can I have a laptop?, or Dad can you buy me a Wii for Christmas?” “I want a Starbucks extra-hot non-fat, easy whip, half-sweet grande mocha. Oh, and I'll have a pumpkin scone to go.” On and on it goes. The average North American teen does not even know where to begin when it comes to giving back. It would be a great idea if we start in the schools with volunteer programs for teenagers?
Can you imagine what kind of change our communities would see if children volunteered on a regular basis? It's an opportunity for teens to explore life and see the world with a different set of eyes. With all the organizations and hospitals in need of volunteers, the experience for the youth would be vast. They can see the lives of the poor who line up at the food bank or the local Salvation Army, the lives of the sick in our extended care units, the lives of the terminally ill children who lie in hospital beds, the lives of drug addicts and criminals, the lives of those paralyzed by violence, the lives of those who are grieving the loss of a loved one due to gang violence. Not only would they be giving back to the community, but they would also be educated in a way that no school, teacher, or parent could ever educate a teenager. The experience is the education. Volunteering would open...