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What does a Youth Worker do?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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A youth worker is someone who specializes in working with children, pre-teens, or teens. He or she may work for an organization such as a church or non-profit group, often involved in organizing events, counseling youth, or simply talking and interacting with young people. The role of the youth worker may also include that of an older brother or sister or mentor.

Studies have shown that young people who have positive influences in their lives, such as that of an older sibling or friend, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors like teenage sex and drug or alcohol use. In many families, one or both parents are often absent, due to jobs or other obligations and cannot spend time with their children. This can lead to acting out on the part of the child. Youth workers may step in to provide children or teens with positive role models in order to keep them away from risky situations.

Many youth workers are volunteers. Some are teens or young adults who volunteer to work with church youth groups or organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. These groups generally provide kids with valuable lessons, along with activities and trips. Volunteers participate in these activities, help with planning, and talk to kids about issues that may be going on in their lives.

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At other times, a youth worker is a hired professional who works to counsel kids who have gone through traumatic events or for nonprofits, finding volunteers and leading activities. Some may work for churches at youth ministers or schools as counselors. These individuals are generally highly trained to notice at-risk behavior and offer solutions for children and adolescents.

There are many benefits for children and teens who interact with youth workers. They are less likely to find companionship on the streets if their ideas and interests are valued and encouraged by a mentor. Kids may also benefit from having someone to talk to — other than their parents — who can give them advice on issues like drugs, sex, and peer pressure. Some volunteers may be formerly at-risk youths themselves, so they can offer inside knowledge on the dangers of certain activities and provide insight on alternatives.

Almost anyone can become a youth worker if interested. Non-profit organizations and churches are often in need of volunteers. The main requirements are that one loves kids, does not have a serious criminal offense unless otherwise approved, and has the time to devote attention to the youths involved.

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Discuss this Article

anon314649
Post 5

What kind of education do you need to become one? What is the major called?

anon311267
Post 4

As a youth worker for five years in the UK, I know it is a real effort to keep your emotions in place sometimes, especially when you can see a positive in a young person that no one else can! I am nearing the end of a three year B.A. Honors program in Youth and Community work, hoping to dedicate the rest of my life to supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our broken society.

It has already been a journey that I could only endorse to anyone who can feel that there is an element of good in young people. I am not a religious man. I am not affiliated with any church group or faith base

, but the general principal that we are not born bad just lingers with me.

Try a few hours a week volunteering at any youth center or young people's project and you will soon see the difference you can make!

Thanks for reading this and try to smile if you can. Life is not that bad.

cupcake15
Post 3

@Subway11 - I think that one of the biggest challenges of working as a social worker is separating your work from your emotions. It is really hard to do because you feel so bad for these children and really want to help them, but if you don’t learn how to separate the two you will get burned out.

That is what happened to a friend of mine. She kept thinking about the children even when she was not working and it consumed her. I understand why this happens because this is an emotionally intense field and as human beings we develop attachments to people, but if we don’t take care of ourselves then we will not be able to help those kids that really need us.

subway11
Post 2

@Latte31 - I know what you are saying,but somebody has to help these kids because they really are the future. I know that many residential youth worker positions do require a BA degree and many of these positions are offered in various shifts.

A lot of these kids in these homes were abused and some are permanently taken away from their parents and live in a home like this well into early adulthood. A residential youth worker also has to maintain the children’s records and supervise them and help them with the transition of living in this type of home. Some of these positions do not even require previous experience because they are willing to train the right person. I looked into this line of work years ago and almost became a social service worker.

latte31
Post 1

I think that anyone looking to get a youth worker job must really have a lot of compassion and enjoy working with kids because a lot times these children have a lot of emotional problems and really need someone to believe in them.

I would imagine a degree in social work should really help anyone get started in this field. You can also volunteer for many different children’s agencies so you can see if you are really suited for this line of work.

It can be heartbreaking at times. I had a friend that was an educational psychologist for the school system and she would tell me about some terrible stories of child neglect that would make any newscast seem tame. Although you do help a lot of kids and it is very rewarding, it could also drain you and make you feel sad for these children.

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