Sample Essay On At Risk Kids: The Art Of Helping
Are more restrictions on the actions of youth a way of minimizing crime or should we be further examining how to broaden their horizons to help them avoid gang activity? Restrictions on youth activity have only appeared to make things worse for young people, as well as the prison system. From 1973 to today, Los Angeles as experienced a 50% increase in prisons that have gone from housing 15,000 prisoners to 153,000 . During that time, cultural centers and arts programs were not opened, but shut down, suggesting that this has only increased the problem. Rather than restrict youths’ actions and access to the world through needless injunctions that only plug the nation’s correction system, communities should be encouraging and guiding them in hopes of a better tomorrow.
Luis J. Rodriguez makes Poignant arguments in his, “Keeping At-Risk Kids out of Jail – It’s An Art,” stating that he was one such youth saved from the system by art and culture . Rodriguez was the unfortunate casualty of gang life. In “I’m the King” it speaks of Hispanic males signifying their “machoness” through certain games like out drinking one another and then driving home drunk, thus potentially becoming murderers . Rodriguez was kicked out of high school when he was fifteen for fighting, possibly for the same ideals. He felt as though he needed to prove himself in a world that was against him. With the help of gang and youth intervention workers, he was able to use his tagging abilities, once only exhausted to mark his group’s territory, to plunge his energy into the arts . When he was eighteen-years-old, a judge saw his potential and decided to keep him out of the court system, allowing him the chance to build a new life, which he did. Today he owns a bookstore, which attempts to fuel the neighborhood with culture, music, art and literature . Rodriguez’s story attempts to illustrate that his chance would not be given today. Though there were injunctions present in 1973, when his chance was given, too many tough-on-crime injunctions exist right now for any youth to be recognized for their talent or kept out of the system. Rodriguez was able to build a cultural empire with his skills because he was given a second chance. It is startling to wonder how many youths have been kept from doing the same because of the injunctions that occurred after 1973.
The ideals of manliness stated in “I’m the King” are not new; many youths feel as though they need to prove they are tough enough in a world that does not appear to want them or care for them . They are raised to believe they must appear tougher than the next person to gain the upper hand over the next individual. This mentality could be why so many injunctions are placed in society. However, the distinction should be made between adults and children; adults can recognize these psychological hurdles, whereas children as simply trying to survive and feel comfortable in a chaotic world they do not understand. Rodriguez, for example, may have sought out the only familiar place he knew in a gang because fighting seemed natural and school had rejected him. If an art program had not been available he might be dead today, or most likely in jail. Therefore, the obvious conclusion would be for law enforcement, as well as adults alike, to stop placing so many injunctions on youths in an attempt to control them. Recognizing their potential as a way to help guide them seems to be the more plausible solution to the issue. Giving children and adolescents a positive outlet for their energy or frustration is more constructive for society than building more prisons.
Several things should be taken into account for human behavior when implementing my idea. For example, as explained in “I’m the King,” many males are basically trained not to express emotion, but instead to fight and prove their manliness in a series of dangerous games . Rodriguez was probably subjected to this, as it took two years of convincing before he agreed to take an art course in order to work on murals for the city of Los Angeles . Therefore, cultural differences and stigmas such as this would need to be considered when attempting to convince youths to express themselves through art, dance, music, or writing. Some may be more open to playing sports, or perhaps building things. These are also options. Humans are sometimes uncomfortable expressing their emotions openly based on how they were raised, but it does not mean they have to settle for a life of crime. There are plenty of constructive activities that are profitable for society and the individual that they may engage in that can guide them away from gang activity and toward a life that can later benefit them in adulthood.
In sum, more injunctions are not the answer to youth gang activity; however, constructive interest in youth talents might be. More art and culture could be the answer to helping youths out of difficult or violent paths they have wandered into. Those who do not feel comfortable being so expressive should also be able to engage in sports, or other activities such as carpentry welding. Guiding youths constructively while eliminating so many needless injunctions could help unclog the corrections system and give many young individuals the chance to help their communities later in life, much like Rodriguez is doing now. Furthermore, these solutions can help change stigmas mentioned in, “I’m the King.” Young people can learn more about themselves and the power of expression, thus becoming more contributive and emotional members of society, ready to help other individuals in the same situation.
"I'm The King." n.d. 62-63.
Rodriguez, Luis J. "Keeping At Risk Kids Out of Jail - Its An Art." The Los Angeles Times (2009). Article.