POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
This project conception was initiated, in part, to describe why a “shift in approach” has been advocated for how we address youth issues in this country. We are going to be focusing on the ways in which differing points of view have converged to form the field of positive youth development in recent Nigerian centric polity. With the twenty first century’s “discovery” of childhood and adolescence as special periods in which children should be given support to learn and develop, society assumed an increased sense of responsibility for the care of its young people.
Increases in juvenile crime and concerns about troubled youth led in the 2007 of the commencement of the Yar ‘Adua Administration in the beginning of major federal funding initiatives to address these issues, which is collectively packaged and address in several initiative to booster youth sensitization and National identity. These trends accelerated during the 2008, as did national rates of poverty, economic degradation, and other bad government policies which indeed has been instrumental to violence; hence unfortunate returns to Nation building. In the summary put forward by (Nicholas Idemudia et al (2006) An Essay on the Nigerian Political society 🙂
Yet again, with the impressive research conducted in the early part of 1995 – 1996 by tow foremost American scholars and researchers;
Changes in socialization forces that have historically nurtured the development of children – especially in the family – necessitate reconceptualization of school and community practices to support the family in its mission to raise successful children (Hernandez, 1995, from Weissberg & Greenberg, 1997: 5).
At first, interventions to support families and children were primarily responses to existing crises. Poverty in the south-south region began to receive bulk of protest in government policy framework that was resultant to Multi-national Corporation’s lukewarmness to forestall peace in their area as a result of the exploration activities. Even while it was glaring that they carried out their civic responsibilities, the government also failed to address its own contribution in the scheme of things to appease host communities in the area. Recently, the government and multinational companies’ interests, along with the ideals of stakeholders are focused on reducing juvenile crime, or transforming poor character in youth. As the nation watched youth problems become more prevalent, intervention and treatment for a wide range of specific problems were developed. In the last three decades, both services and policies designed to reduce the problem behaviors of troubled youth have expanded, both in the south-south geopolitical zones, the East, west, north, and north central without leaving the middle belt out of it, reflecting more on the crisis in Plateau State in 2001. The effectiveness of these approaches has been extensively examined in a variety of research studies on substance abuse, already treated in “Youth and Drug Abuse”, conduct disorders, delinquent and antisocial behavior, academic failure, and teenage pregnancy (cf. Agee, 1979; Clarke & Cornish, 1978; Cooper, Altman, Brown & Czechowicz, 1983; De Leon & Ziengenfuss, 1986; Friedman & Beschner, 1985; Gold & Mann, 1984).
Prevention approaches has just started gaining more public awareness with the influx of NGO’s in their philosophy of the MDGs and the interest in Youths and Sustainable Developments in various quarters, with an emphasis on supporting youth before problem behaviors occurred. Increasingly, investigators and practitioners in the field should sought to address the circumstances (families, schools, communities, peer groups) of Youth’s lives before they become explosive in nature, thereby giving credence to violence and crime.
The prevention field has undergone its own evolution during this time, both in United State of America and other European and Caribbean countries. Many early prevention programs were not based on theory and research on youth development or the factors influencing it. Prevention strategies changed as programs were evaluated, particularly as some approaches failed to show positive impact on youth drug use, pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, school failure, or delinquent behavior (cf. Ennett, Tobler, Ringwalt & Flewelling, 1994; Kirby, Harvey, Claussenius & Novar, 1989; Malvin, Moskowitz, Schaeffer & Schaps, 1984; Snow, Gilchrist & Schinke, 1985; Thomas, Mitchell, Devlin, Goldsmith, Singer & Watters, 1992; Mitchell, et al., 1997).
A key turning point in the field occurred as investigators and service providers began incorporating information from longitudinal studies that identified important predictors of problem behaviors in youth. A second generation of prevention efforts sought to use this information on predictors to interrupt the processes leading to specific problem behaviors, such as the Nigeria Institute of Narcotic Studies (NINS), and the Nigeria Sociological Institute (NSI) for the first began to brainstorm on ideal on restoring the hopes of youths in Nation building, and reinvigorating the spirit of youth in capacity building philosophy. For example, drug abuse prevention programs began to address empirically identified predictors of adolescent drug use, such as peer and social influences to use drugs, and social norms that condone or promote such behaviors (cf. Ellickson & Bell, 1990; Flay et al., 1988; Pentz et al., 1989a, b). These prevention efforts were often guided by theories about how people make decisions, such as the Theory of Reasoned Action (Morrison, Simpson, Gillmore, Wells & Hoppe, 1994; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) and the Health Belief Model (Janz & Becker, 1984; Rosenstock, Strecher & Becker, 1988). As Kirby (1997:12) noted,
In 1991, proponents of (these) leading theories of behavioral change assembled at the National Institute of Mental Health to attempt to reach agreement on the important factors influencing behavior and behavior change, particularly health behavior (Fishbein et al., 1991). This was also indicative of violence eruption in different zones, usually religious based, or ethnocentrically motivated. They succeeded in reaching some consensus on these issues. They agreed that there are five factors that most strongly influence health-related behaviors: (1) the person’s intention to engage in the behavior, (2) the lack of any environmental constraints that might prevent the behavior or the existence of any environmental resources needed to complete the behavior, (3) the individual’s skills (or ability to engage in the behavior), (4) Social irresponsibility of the society, giving rise of long resist system of behavior over time; and perhaps the lukewarmness of vital threshold of government and non-government interest in the attitude of youth development in its entirety, and (5) The Individual adaptation processes, and the status to which they are psychologically, sociologically, politically and spiritually based.
In the 1980s, prevention efforts that focused only on a single problem behavior came under increasing criticism. The dominant prevention models were urged to examine the co-occurrence of problem behaviors within a single youth, and the common predictors of multiple problem behaviors. Investigators were also encouraged to incorporate valuable knowledge about environmental predictors and interactions between the individual and the environment. Further, many advocated a focus on factors that promote positive youth development, in addition to focusing on problem prevention. Such concerns, expressed by both prevention practitioners and prevention scientists, helped expand the design of prevention programs to include components aimed at promoting positive youth development, and the factors that influence it; therefore in my earlier statement of youth development and sustainability, it was glaring that without issues like this tactically and lucidly implemented, results are deceptive. Consensus began to
develop that a successful transition to adulthood requires more than avoiding drugs, violence, or precocious sexual activity. The promotion of Youth’s social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development began to be seen as key to preventing problem behaviors themselves.
Any Youth Development and Outreach Program should seek to promote the participation and leadership of Nigerian Youths and young people in the development process of nation building. The purpose wherefore should be to highlight the value that young people can play in the effort to build a region with stable democracies, sustainable economies, and equitable societies. By establishing alliances with the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and youth, the government and all stakeholders should emphasises participation and leadership, entrepreneurial development, technology, and community service to the end of:
Empowering young people to become involved in their personal development and that of their communities, and advocating youth development and participation as an integral part of development; mainstreaming youth development and participation throughout the nation’s Ministry of Youths Affairs operations, and promoting inter-organisational partnerships to advance youth development and participation.
Although is difficult to implement at first hand, yet with systematic efforts to enforce actualization, the government through what this research material can offer give attention to issues which will turn out as effective than any other implementation one may think fit for Youth awareness campaign strategy.
Activities should include:
(1) YOUTH AND CAPACITY BUILDING: Capacity building, which involves creating training, initiatives and projects that develop the managerial, technical, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills of youth, so that they might become actors in the development process rather than the subjects of that process. Facilitation of communication among youth in the form of a regional network of more than 13.5 Million youth leaders and social entrepreneurs across Nigeria actively engaged in socio-economic activities who will serve as agents for development in their communities should be a government at all levels investment planning. In the area of outreach and communications, the creation of public awareness among the general public, government agencies, and the non-profit and private sectors on the contributions and value of youth participation and development. In addition, the programme should develop communication tools and promote the best practices and model programmes of youth development through conferences, audiovisual materials, publications, television programming, press articles, a quarterly newsletter, and The Youth Development and Outreach website such as those of the National Youth Council of Nigeria and several others.
(2) INTER-ORGANISATIONAL COLLABORATION: The creation of strategic alliances with public, private, and non-profit sectors to advocate for effective youth participation as agents for development in that region through information exchange, project collaboration, resource mobilisation, and dissemination of best practices promotion of the importance of Inter-Regional collaboration and inter-agency partnerships to better respond to the needs of youth representation of the MYA in the Geopolitical Working Group on Youth Development (GPWGYD)), a consortium of National donor agencies (such as philanthropist, Governments, and national NGOs) that supports new approaches to positive youth development and participation in Niger Delta and Nigeria as a Nation. Intra-agency mainstreaming, that is, the development of internal alliances with other departments and MYA parastatal Offices to integrate youth development and participation into the Federal government through the MYA’s mission and project pipeline, and Policy advocacy and formulation that promotes a supportive policy environment for youth development and participation by engaging in policy formulation initiatives with other partners.
CREATING YOUTH DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
The original pool of strategies used for the analysis was drawn from a framework developed by Tolan and Guerra (1994). The list was expanded from its original purpose in violence prevention evaluations to encompass techniques or methods linked with forms of positive youth development, health promotion, and competence promotion. This resulted in each intervention being analyzed for 30 possible categories of strategies. These may be generally grouped into two broad categories: skills focus and environmental/organizational change. Overall, specific strategies that corresponded to social skills or cognitive behavioral skills were represented in the greatest proportions in evaluations of effective positive youth development programs. Twenty-four (96%) of all programs incorporated some skills-based strategies. Leading the category of skills-focused strategies were decision-making and self-management skills (each at 73%), followed by coping skills (62%) and refusal-resistance skills (50%).
One of the most commonly documented forms of environmental strategies was the effort to influence teacher practices in the classroom. Another strategy, the influencing of peer norms and perceptions, was not always described in the report, but many programs met the criteria for this, particularly among the multiple-domain programs. Again a similar profile was found for the excluded programs; about three fourths of these programs used skill based strategies. Except for the excluded programs with strong designs, it was more difficult to determine how many of these used environmental and organizational strategies. The information was not always available for a meaningful analysis.
YOUTH ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN NATION BUILDING
It is now obvious that the future of Nigeria lies in good leadership and those responsible are without dispute young leaders. We all agree that good governance, democracy, constitutionalism and nation building are heavily shaped by the quality of a country’s politics. If the future of Nigeria lies in the youth, how then can space be created in the mainstream politics to realize it? Let us take the antecedent of Ghanaian political scene for example.
The overarching goal of the present Administration’s initiative is to mobilize and harness the abundant resources of Nigeria’s youth towards improving the quality of life in cities and towns with a view to empower vulnerable urban youth groups for improved socio-economic inclusion and development.
Imperatively, a new dawn has emerged where the luxury of comfortably sitting back and complaining as youth has long gone. Nigeria cannot continue being a continent of succession without successors, youth leaders are the best alternative. With regard to the researches conducted over time, both in Nigeria, United States, Europe, Asia, The Caribbean and South America, some of the forward include:
. Legal backing through Political Party Bills, a strong National Youth Policy and lobbying for Affirmative Action Bills for the youth (The MYA has through the Federal initiative calculated efforts to make this possible amidst its National Agenda).
. Strategies on resource mobilization to support potential youth election candidates, civic education with a special focus on the critical role of youth, networking and coordination of youth activities to form a platform where we speak in one voice and push our agenda, working with media for the benefit of youth and building their capacity as leaders who work with and for the people they represent and thus, the community at the grassroots. Encourage youth to join sound political parties.
. Youth have to develop good leadership skills and learn from others. Practice leadership that enables positive transformation in our countries.
. Focus and scope of leadership should not be limited to politics and national level; it should transcend boundaries into regional and
international levels. We should be able to have competent youth representatives in such bodies. It is imperative to adapt universally accepted value systems, broaden our knowledge by exposing ourselves to what youth leaders and leaders from other age-groups and countries are engaged in, learn and adapt what works best.
In order to implement the youth initiative both nationally and locally, all the stakeholders in youth awareness and mobilisation should kick-off with their own style of campaign coupled with statutory funding; where agenda are specified and accessed by a committee. A key focus of these partnerships will be to take the local initiatives of youth nationally as expression by the Mission statement of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and the National Youth Initiative Forum (NYIF), and this is to ensure it bring them all, collectively to a level in which they can be shared with other youth, researchers and policy makers. This effort is unique in its approach in that it starts from the belief that youth are agents of change within their communities. Most development programmes see youth as being the problem, on whom development programmes can fix. They treat youth as passive receptors, unable to act, and needing to be acted upon. This in recent time have been refuted, gnashed at and fought with the last youth blow ever known. It is unacceptable, and any political process that encourages such a misconception and misrepresentation of the ideology of the youth as the fountain of nation building is doomed to fail, and research indicates that such a process will continue to fail.
There is, however, a growing movement internationally which argues that youth, beyond being passive, are actively taking charge of their own destiny within their own communities. Strategies are needed to encourage and strengthen this movement – strategies such as the any form of partnership that will be formed either initiated or purported by the government, NGOs and private sectors will go a long way in revamping the age long glory accorded to the youth in its entirety.