By Ashley Walker
Lincoln Park High School
With unemployment at almost 9 percent in Illinois, jobs are treasured and hard to come by. Once you have one, it can be a fight to keep it.
This can be especially hard on teens. According to a study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, teen unemployment this summer may be the highest ever. Yet, are jobs really needed for teens who are still trying to get an education?
Another recent study shows teens that work while getting an education are less likely to finish college. According to the Developmental Psychology Journal, only 20 percent of students who worked 31 hours or more per week went on to graduate college.
“Issues like the dropout rate, sex and loss of education have become the norm. Society is preparing people for failure,” said Dervel Jackson, 18, a senior at Curie High School. “It’s all about choices, but what about those teens who don’t know about making good choices? What do they do?”
More and more frequently, teens are competing for jobs. But maybe they should be focusing on getting an education to get a better job.
“It seems like teens have lost all regards for their education,” said Melody Anderson, a youth mentor at Clarendon Park. “Some teens will get a job and completely let go of their education. It’s really sad.”
While society points its finger towards the child for lack of guidance and morality, some believe society is too willing to take childhood away.
“Society seems to be giving up on our kids,” said Anderson. “I’ve talked to some teens who felt working was way more important than finishing school. They see what the media is glorifying money. When teens make mistakes, adults and some of their peers turn their backs on them as if to say, you only get one chance.”
Whether or not teens fight for employment is more than relevant, but do they really need employment while trying to receive an education?
“Money is a distraction from education!” said Toni Ladao, 17, a student at Lincoln Park High School. “An education is not easy to come by. You need an education in order to get most jobs. Teens need to start helping their selves by knowing when they’re doing too much and putting a halt on their future.”
So where do we go from here? What is a way to help teens stay off of the violent streets while staying focused on their education?
Dr. Carl Bell is the director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at UIC. Bell said teens should have a positive foundation in their lives.
“Teens need a strong support system behind them,” he said. “They need it more so than babies, now that they’re able to see exactly what society is expecting of them.”
Melody Anderson and many other parents believe extracurricular activities may be the solution rather than employment.
“Educational based programs are great! Programs that reinforce and apply things that are learned are important,” she said. “This will help produce the next doctors, lawyers and presidents! We need to push them towards success.”
“Too many times do we look at the poverty level,” said Jennifer Johnson, an African-American history teacher at Lincoln Park High School.
“Academic achievement is important to students’ lives,” Johnson said. “A person who is suffering from poverty can be an AP student. Extracurricular activities help students receive the grades that can push them to a brighter future.”