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Meet the Gen Zers struggling to stay in work or school — and the parents who are at a loss for how to help

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the growing issue of "disconnected youth" in the United States - young people aged 18-24 who are not in school, not working, and disconnected from a sense of purpose. The article explores the factors contributing to this trend, the long-term impacts, and potential solutions.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Rising Disconnection Rates

1. What are the key factors contributing to the rising rates of disconnected youth in the US?

  • Poor mental health and lack of a financial safety net are identified as major contributors to the rising disconnection rates among young people.
  • The article also notes that areas with high poverty rates and fewer community resources tend to have higher disconnection rates.
  • Factors like limited access to transportation, disabilities, and being young parents also make some youth more susceptible to becoming disconnected.

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the issue of disconnected youth?

  • The article highlights that the remote-learning era of the pandemic led to a "dramatic shift" where some young people dropped out of college, with the "top priority" becoming spending time with friends and going on adventures rather than education.
  • This burnout from working multiple jobs during the pandemic also contributed to some youth, like Destiny, leaving their jobs and education.

[02] Impacts of Disconnection

1. What are the long-term consequences of youth disconnection?

  • Being disconnected from work and school during the ages of 16-24 can "cast a long shadow across the whole life course", impacting future earnings and the likelihood of owning a home.
  • The article notes that there is a "downward spiral" that often results from youth becoming disconnected, and many struggle to find their way out of it.
  • Disconnection can also erode mental and physical health, as well as relationships with friends and community, due to a lack of purpose.

2. How does the experience of disconnection differ between middle-class and disadvantaged youth?

  • The article states that middle-class youth often have more "chances" and are "protected to some degree from the consequences" when they "try and they can fail", whereas disconnected youth lack that luxury.
  • Disadvantaged youth in areas with high poverty and fewer community resources are more susceptible to becoming disconnected in the first place.

[03] Potential Solutions

1. What policy solutions are suggested to address the issue of disconnected youth?

  • The article suggests that policymakers could implement programs like guaranteed income for disconnected youth, expanded social safety net initiatives like Medicaid, and universal preschool and childcare.
  • It also argues that addressing the growing mental health crisis and providing more holistic supports, beyond just job placement, are crucial.

2. What role can parents and communities play in supporting disconnected youth?

  • The article highlights the challenges parents face, with some feeling at a "total loss" about how to help their disconnected children.
  • It suggests that parents need to learn to be more accepting of their children pursuing paths other than the traditional college degree, and focus on helping them find work and activities that bring them joy.
  • The article also emphasizes the need for more community resources and support systems to help disconnected youth get back on track.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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