Center for Youth Voice in Practice and Policy @ WKCD

“One thing I always told myself was that I don’t have to be the tail.  I got to be the head. I know that education is power.””

                                                                                                                                                                                                          - Seattle, WA high school junior

                                        

 
Polling for Justice: Young New Yorkers Probe the Problems of “Dispossession”

Digging into the survey’s statistical output together, the young researchers and their CUNY counterparts found their hunch confirmed. Experiencing ‘dispossession’ did seem literally to ‘get under the skin’ of young people, making them more vulnerable to health and safety problems of many kinds.

Dispossession showed up most in high-poverty communities, with youth of color, males, and LGBQ youth, they discovered. And while the most dispossessed youth represented less than a third of the total sample (31%), they accounted for nearly two thirds (64%) of all the dispossessing incidents the survey measured.

Youth in the ‘most dispossessed’ category were nearly six times more likely to engage with violence, more than four times more likely to engage in unsafe sex practices, almost three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and twice as likely to report clinical depression as the youth in the ‘least dispossessed’ category, the researchers said.

  “Guns, Germs, and Schools” by Kathleen Cushman

Center for Youth Voice in Practice and Policy @ WKCD | info@centerforyouthvoice.org | 401.247.7665 | P.O Box 603252, Providence, RI 02906


OVERVIEW


High-school-age students worked for two years on the Polling for Justice study, as part of the Public Science Project, a decade-long initiative linking young people with faculty and students at the City University of New York (CUNY), researchers, and youth-centered community organizations.


Beginning in January 2008, the Polling for Justice project set out to describe the experiences of youth from all five boroughs of New York City. Together with their CUNY partners, the young researchers created

a survey to help identify whether, and how, public policies “dispossess” certain adolescents from access to high-quality education, health care, and policing or criminal justice.


Digging into the survey’s statistical output together, the young researchers and their CUNY counterparts found their hunch confirmed. Experiencing “dispossession” did seem literally to “get under the skin” of young people, making them more vulnerable to health and safety problems of many kinds.


 

Dispossession itself showed up most in high-poverty communities, with youth of color, with males, and with LGBQ youth, they discovered. And while the most dispossessed youth represented less than a third of the total sample (31%), they accounted for nearly two thirds (64%) of all the dispossessing incidents the survey measured.


Yet the numbers also revealed significant cause for hope that public policy could make a real difference in the lives of youth. Even in the most dispossessed conditions, substantial percentages of youth replied that they were not engaging in violence or unsafe sex, not using alcohol and drugs, not suffering from depression. Using depression as a test case, the researchers dug deeper for the reasons some youth seemed more resilient in similar harsh circumstances.

 

The difference, they now believe, is that more resilient youth report having more trusting relationships with educators, as well as more involvement with youth organizing or organizations. And public policies, they say, could significantly boost the likelihood of that.


For more information and a copy of the youth survey, please contact: mfox@publicsienceproject.org.



WKCD feature storyPolling_for_Justice_files/PFJ%20Feature%20Story.PDF
Video (Michelle Fine and youth researchers presenting at the Deborah Meir Institute)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO5mQYH1jZ4

Download or watch:

Video (youth researchers talk about the research process and results)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh0mdefVPHc