Youth violence in the United States is something that cannot be ignored. From gang violence to school shootings to bullying in schools, there is no wonder youth violence is such a hot topic. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) conducted a survey on youth violence in 2011 and found that 5 percent of high school students had brought a weapon to school in the 30 days prior to the survey. In the same survey it was found that 33 percent of high school students had been in a physical fight in the 12 months before the survey. In the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, the FBI states that juvenile gangs are increasing and that gangs target youth because of their vulnerability and susceptibility to recruitment tactics. Even though the problem is apparent, not everyone knows what he or she can do to help stop the violence. One way that everyone can help out and make a difference is by becoming involved through community service and volunteering.
A few months ago, President Obama called for a National Day of Service. In response, thousands of Americans helped out and volunteered in their communities. Community service has become an important part of our country. Many people are aware of national volunteering opportunities such as the American Red Cross, Neighborhood Watch, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the United Way. In these programs, you can be active in your community and mentor at-risk youth to guide them in a positive way. Even though these national agencies receive the most publicity, there are many other ways to volunteer and become involved in your community, to make a contribution to the community’s school, your city, and your country.
Getting involved can be easy. When I was younger, I volunteered with my local animal shelter. I love animals so this was the perfect opportunity for me; I had fun and I was helping out. There are so many different volunteer opportunities available; the hard part is knowing where to look for them. A great place to start is the United We Serve website, serve.gov. This website can help you find existing volunteer opportunities in your area and help you learn how to start your own service project. Other good places to look are your local school, library, hospital, retirement home, church, or food bank. So get up and get involved. You can start making a difference in your community today.
For more information on volunteering, visit NCPC’s website at ncpc.org/topics/volunteering.