College of Education works to help local youth

Megan George

The College of Education at Georgia Southern University will assist local youth dealing with bullying, racism or violence by opening a National Youth-At-Risk Center that is scheduled to open this fall.

The center plans on extending efforts of the College of Education by providing training for educators or guardians who are working with youth-at-risk in the educational system in Bulloch County and surrounding areas, according to National Youth-At-Risk Center Proposal.

“When the whole community is well-educated, then (the community is) more likely to reach all the children. A lot of the other centers at other universities are focused just on raising achievement, helping teachers and school leaders to raise achievement in the schools. We’re looking at something broader,” Dan Rea, professor of education and educational psychology, said.

The term “youth-at-risk” refers to the circumstances that a youth may be placed in due to environmental conditions that are unhealthy for a youth’s social, emotional or intellectual development, Rea said.

“Any kid can be at risk at some point in their development,” Rea said.

According to the proposal, racism, bullying, negative peer pressure, lack of relevant curriculum, ineffective discipline strategies, dysfunctional home life and even unqualified teachers are circumstances that can create a youth-at-risk.

One of the characteristics that will set GSU’s NYAR Center apart from others is its focus on community as a whole.

“We’re not focused just on the schools. Our philosophy is that it takes a whole village to raise a child,” Rea said.

The name “National Youth-At-Risk Center” is derived from the National Youth-at-Risk Conference that the College of Education and The Division of Continuing Education at GSU hosts each year in Savannah.

There are six existing centers similar to the NYAR Center in the U.S.

For the full story, pick up Tuesday’s issue of The George-Anne.