As a team, one of the things we’ve been monitoring during 2020 is how the pandemic has affected the teenagers we serve in the area of academics. One of our goals is to help every teenager launch into adulthood successfully. Their education is a big part of that equation.
We are focusing our resources on Bremerton and Poulsbo at the moment, but we hope to attract more partners to help us get into the Central Kitsap, South Kitsap, and North Mason areas soon.
There are 3000 young people age 11-19 in the Bremerton area. We want to help as many of them as possible get to their graduation day successfully.
These are a few of the top reasons teenagers may feel tempted to drop out. Below that is some information about what we’re doing to help.
1. Academic Failure
If they are struggling on a daily basis, this is typically the biggest reason most students drop out. Studies show that children who are not reading proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to quit high school than their peers. Since reading is required for everything in higher grades, the lower the reading level the harder time a student will have in school. We can’t go back in time, but we can support them where they’re at and help them work towards graduation.
2. Poor Attendance
Chronic absenteeism is one reason students are falling behind. If they aren’t there on a regular basis, they miss information and assignments start stacking up. We know that providing support could be the key to making sure students show up for school and stay there.
One study showed that at least 65% of students are bored at least once a day and this is one reason listed for dropping out. Teens often struggle to see how what they are learning will be applicable to their lives. Finding creative ways to present material is incredibly important. Also, people can help by encouraging students to get involved in activities and develop talents and outside interests besides academics.
4. Teen Pregnancy
Only about 53% of teen moms get their high school diploma. The high dropout trend of teen mothers comes down to a lack of support and child services that are offered. Additionally, these mothers need financial means to raise a child which can be difficult while going to school. Providing them with a supportive community and resources is one of the keys to helping them get to graduation.
5. Financial Difficulties
Students with low family incomes have the highest dropout rates at 9.4%. This is because many times these children need to get a job rather than going to school so they can help to support their families. Creative options exist for students who must earn money while in school, including work-study programs (students can earn credit for working part-time jobs) and online programs for students to take classes when they aren't at work. Things like this can help a student stay in school.
6. Mental Health Issues
Students with depression were twice as likely to drop out of high school. This is because their illness can affect their ability to learn and their engagement. Being around positive friends and mentors can help prevent these feelings.
7. Drug & Alcohol Use
This is a chronic problem among teens as they seek to deal with the pain in their lives. As teens start using drugs or become addicted not only does their engagement worsen but they start to miss more school leading to them not coming at all. This is another area that mentors and a safe place to be can make a difference between them graduating or dropping out.
Only about 62% of students with disabilities graduate. Students with disabilities may not get the support they need as well as start to feel isolated. Having schools, parents, and community organizations working together can be helpful in seeing more of these kids graduate.
9. Juvenile Crimes
Without a lot of support or guidance, some teenagers deal with the pain in their lives in other ways that may involve both violent and nonviolent crimes. Mentors can provide a preventative role as well as a rehabilitative role in getting these kids back on track.
What is YFC doing about it?
This is why we invested in our building a few years back. The 801 is located in West Bremerton, and our staff leads programs to help kids in all of these kinds of situations. More importantly, we build mentoring relationships with them so that they have people to walk with them and help them become future leaders in the community.
In order to keep these programs going, we started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for our Bremerton teen center. Some of you are already giving and we certainly appreciate it! Some of you can’t, but we’d like you to watch the video and consider sharing it with a friend to help us spread the word.