If the parents wish to participate they will be offered programs that will allow them gain employment skills or improve on the skills they already have in place.

The structure of the family is also changing in ways that have placed poor youth and parents at greater risk of problems of family life and individual development. For instance, during the 1980s, there was a 13% increase:in the number of youth living in single-parent families, a trend present in 44 states. Thus, during the 1987-1991 period, 18, 30, and 57% of European-American, Latino, and African-American children, respectively, lived in single-parent households (Center for the Study of Social Policy 1992). Overall, approximately 25% of youth in the United States live in single-parent (and, typically, female-headed) families, and poverty rates among female-headed, single-parent or male-headed, single-parent families are much higher (47 and 23%, respectively) than among two-parent families (9%) (Center for the Study of Social Policy 1993, Hernandez 1993). The poverty rates in single-parent households were, by the beginning of the 1990s, 30% for European-American families, 51% for African-American families, and 53% for Latino families (U.S. Department of Commerce 1991). The fact that increasing numbers of youth live in these family structures means that the financial resources to support parenting are less likely to be available."

The next thing the program will address is the single parent aspect of urban violence. Single parent families are stressed for many reasons. One parent has to handle all the child raising responsibilities, the finances are often extremely tight, and teenagers in single parent homes are often more rebellious than in dual parent settings. The program while addressing the educational needs of each family member will also address the counseling and parenting needs. The program will offer parenting classes free of charge to those who live in the local area. The classes will deal with setting limits, encouraging goals and locating resources for assistance when needed. This program believes that education combined with healthy parenting will interrupt the cycle of family stressors that contribute to the incidence of urban violence in America.

Moreover, in homes where there is an absence of a father, a strong mother-adolescent relation can protect youth from risks (e.g. Of having a peer group engaged in problem behaviors) and, in turn, constitutes a source of resiliency and positive development among poor, minority youth." To this end the program will provide babysitting services for younger siblings once a month to allow single mothers to spend time with their adolescents without the distractions that younger siblings can provide.

This program will be offered to anyone who falls within certain economic guidelines. The families will be chosen by the free lunch roster at the schools, church referrals and referrals from social services. The program will contact the families as well as accept walk in traffic. The family will be asked to sign a one year commitment agreement to attend meetings, counseling sessions, pursue educational opportunities and call the program first if they run into a problem in which they need help solving. The program will most likely be most effective for single parent homes and homes of minority families as they are statistically most likely to need help turning things around.

The impact of this class on my professional development has been significant. Through this class I have learned not to be judgmental. I used to think if a family had an adolescent in it who was causing trouble, then it meant poor parenting or lack of caring. Through this class I have learned that there are family stressors that can eat away at a family until it is difficult to see the light of day. The families in crisis are not always there because they are lazy or addicted to drugs. Through this class I realized that providing a program that assists all members of the family unit is more effective than only assisting one or two of the family members.


Adolescent development: challenges and opportunities for research, programs, and policies.

Segregation and crime: the effect of black social isolation on the rates of black urban violence.

Lerner JV, Lerner RM. 1983. Temperament and adaptation across life: theoretical and empirical issues. In Life-Span Development and Behavior, ed. PB Baltes, OG Brim Jr., 5:197-230. New York:…