Community Service and Social Responsibility in Youth

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This is an analysis of the beneficial effects of community service on the political and moral identity of adolescents. This text uses a case study from a predominantly black, urban high school in Washington, D.C., building on the insights of Erik Erikson on the social and historical nature of identity development. The study seeks to show that service at a soup kitchen as part of a course on social justice gives opportunity to reflect on their status in society, on how society is organized, on how government should use its power, and on moral principles related to homelessness and poverty. By developing a sense of social responsibility and a civic commitment, young people can begin to see themselves as active agents in society. The book challenges negative steoptypes of contemporary adolescents, and illustrates how young people can use their talents for social good when given the opportunity. It is designed to interest those concerned with today's youth and tomorrow's society.