There are few areas more important than youth if a stable society is to flourish. Within the past year we have seen the Jasmine Revolution spring up (the birth for the Arab Spring). With the Jasmine Revolution the youth were not convinced that their future was going to improve. Confidence was lost and the only option was to revolt.
The analogy can be brought to how any community or society collapses in relation to the Jasmine Revolution. The youth have to be provided with a vision that life will improve. That vision must be met with tangible examples so that the reality is felt as well.
At risk youth are part of the community and a focus on them at the earliest possible chance can save a community from greater suffering later. A child that reaches grade ten and can not read is a failure of society as a whole. Furthermore the future of that child will have greater challenges the longer illiteracy continues. Crime is not a certain outcome for such a person but it is more probable.
In another analogy we can look at child soldiers and the reintegration programs for them. With these youth the challenges are on a different scale. However we must keep in mind that a gang in the DR Congo is based on the same ideology as a gang anywhere else in the world. For that matter a family unit is rooted in the same ideology as gang membership. The common link is belonging to a unit.
The feeling of belonging is a powerful piece for us. As we build community we must tap into the sense of belonging and hope for an improved situation. These two components work in tandem if you are wishing to build a peaceful society.
By working on the elements of belonging and hope, a peaceful society can discuss difficult choices, make difficult decissions and evolve. At the moment there is a concern that youth in some countries are not interested in government due to a lack of control or meaning - this is a dangerous element to neglect.
Of course the youth have always been seen as a troubling issue for politicians but that tide is now flowing into those aged in their 30's. A generation is being lost here and left to deteriorate further. We must see the challenges now and work at the toughest points. These points are the at risk youth. Alone, they may not reverse, together they will have a chance to save others.