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«RES UME DOCUMENT RC 001 281 ED 022 581 By- Burchinal, Lee G., Ed. RURAL YOUTH IN CRISIS: FACTS, MYTHS, AND SOCIAL CHANGE. National Committee for ...»

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RC 001 281

ED 022 581

By- Burchinal, Lee G., Ed.


National Committee for Children and Youth, Washington, D.C.

Spons Agency-Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C.

Pub Date 63 Note-393p.; Papers from the Nat. Conf. on Probl. of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment, Stillwater, Okla., Sep. 22-25, 1963.

Available from-Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 3125/ EDRS Price MF-$150 HC Not Available from EDRS.












Presented are condensed versions of background papers for the National Conference on Problems of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment held in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on September 22-25, 1963. Twenty-seven papers are grouped under the following divisions:.(1) rural community backgrounds; (2) rural education; (3) physical and mental health of rural youth; (4) prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency in rural areas; (5) adapting to urban ways; and (6) helping socially disadvantaged rural youth. Related documents are RC 000 137 and RC 000 156. (SF).,.1'..






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DISCRIMINATION PROMBITEDTitle VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1064 st.Ates : "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Therefore, the programs of the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development, like every program or activity receiving financial assistance from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, must be operated in compliance with this law.

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iv Foreword The material contained in this volume is a condensed version of a collection of papers originally prepared as background information for the "Conference on Problems of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment," sponsored by the Nationai Committee for Children and Youth, and held at Stillwater, Okla., September 22-25, 1963. This Conference on rural youth was an outgrowth of a previous "Conference on Unemployed, Out-of-School Youth in Urban Areas," also sponsored by the National Committee for Children and Youth. One of the significant observations of the "Urban Conference," was the relationship between social deprivation experienced by a large number of urban children and youth, many of whom came from rural areas with their families, and high rates of school dropouts, unemployment, and delinquency. Concern for problems of rural as well as urban youth led to the development of the "Conference on Problems of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment" and to this book.

All youth, rural and urban alike, are confronted with and must resolve common problems associated with growing up in our society. Similar developmental tasks must be mastered and roughly comparable means are available for their accomplishment. All youth are, confronted with decisions related to educational, occupational, marital, residential, and other social choices, and must reach their decisions in the midst of rapid social change which is characterized primarily by demands for higher levels of skill, knowledge, and social functioning. But for reasons that are clearly identified in this volume, additional burdens are imposed upon many rural youth. Not only are many rural youth seriously disadvantaged socially, economically, and educationally, but these problems are compounded because rural youth often fail to receive sufficient preparation to bridge the gap between being able to "get by" in a rural environment and becoming contributing citizens in an urban society.

So it is that migration is central to any discussion of rural youth in modern society. All but a small portion of farm youth will have to pursue nonfarm careers. Most rural youth, by choice or necessity, will be attracted to large metropolitan complexes. Too frequently, these rural you th lack the resources needed for earning an adequate living and for developing a satisfying and meaningful life in the cities to which they go.

But migrant youth are not the only ones who face problems. Severe problems related to securing and keeping employment and to building a meaningful life also occur among rural youth who remain in their home environment.

Many of the problems encountered by rural youthall youth for that matterare not of their making. Their problems partly arise from the lack of family and community resources or their inappropriateness for current conditions. Poverty is more widespread in rural than in urban America. Educational levels among rural adults lag far behind those of urban adults. School, health, and social service facilities in rural communities typically are less adequately staffed than corresponding urban facilities and services. Despite these obvious family and community conditions which handicap too many rural youth, until recently there has been little public concern about the preparation of rural youth for living in urbanized society. To develop programs to aid rural youth, it is important to identify some reasons why we have been complacent about the status of rural youth.

The major organizations which generally provide leadership for rural America have focused almost exclusively on agricultural price and production legislation and generally have not crusaded for updating legislation or for providing adequate financing necessary for improving rural schools, health, law enforcement, and welfare services.

Second, several beliefs frequently voiced by these organizations and rural leaders have worked against the development of the programs needed to help rural youth better prepare for adult roles. One assumption is derived from the impact of modern technology upon rural social systems. The development of modern communication and transportation and the frequent mov ement of ideas and people between the rural and urban communities, it.is asserted, have greatly reduced if not completely eliminated previous social and psychological differences between rural and urban youth. Another assumption is that rural youth, on the average, are superior to urban youth in most ways, including resourcefulness, industriousness, and citizenship. The latter reflects elements of rural nostalgia, agrarian romanticism, or Jeffersonian idealism. These beliefs are false. Careful research data reviewed in various chapters of this volume point to an opposite conclusion: for many characteristics which are closely related to educational and occupational attainment and success, rural youth are at a disadvantage relative to urban youth.

A third set of factors has hindered efforts to accurately assess the characteristics of rural youth and how well rural youth are prepared for life in urban United States. These are the affluence of American society and our preoccupation with the complex, serious, even explosive problems of youth in the inner core of our cities. This well-deserved and long overdue attention to problems of urban youth, however, should not blind us to equally difficult, though often less visible, problems of rural youth as they become young adults.

Much is known and can be used to assist rural youth to better prepare for adult life, whether they move to urban centers or remain in rural communities. Yet more knowledge is needed, and still botter ways need to be developed so that current knowledge can be built into effective vi programs which will help rural youth achieve fuller and more satisfying adult lives.

The "Conference on Problems of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment" was called so that problems of rural youth could be made more visible, analyzed more carefully, and attacked mere vigorously than has been done in the past. Specifically, the objectives of the Conference were to assemble and integrate available information about the problems trid potentials of rural youth in our modern, industrialized, and urban society; to use this information to gain better understanding of the problems of rur41 youth now and in the coming decades; to focus attention on immediate steps which need to be undertaken; and tc help mobilize th;

resources needed to ensure that rural youth are prepared to assume their adult roles constructively in our rapidly changing society.

To accomplish these objectives, supplemental or, in many cases, new programs must be develop. i. These programs, however, must be based on careful, systematic, and rigorous examination of knowledge. Therefore, the "Conference on Problems of Rural Youth in a Changing Environment" began with an assessment of present knowledge based on background papers specially prepared for the Conference. Although these papers were prepared for distribution to conferees prior to the Conference, their value extends far beyond that initial use. All contain information essential to understanding some aspects of the social adjustment of rural youth. Some contain new information that has not been previously published; others contain suggestions for new programs or courses of aetion. The papers were prepared by leading authorities in fields represented by the concerns of the Conference. While the National Committee for Children and Youth has full onfidence in the knowledge and experience of the authors and editor, the views expressed are not necessarily those of the National Committee for Children and Youth or the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare which has made possible the publication of this volume. Together, the 5'4 1 original papers, now reorganized into 27 chapters in this volume, represent a unique, comprehensive, and up-to-date collection of information, interpretation of chartoteristics of rural youth, and suggestions for ways of improving services and facilities in rural communities to help rural youth assume their adult roles.

Many Government agencies, national organizations, State committees for children and youth, and individuals made contributions both to the Conference and to the collection and preparation of the information contained in these background papers. Financial support which made both the Conference and the collection of this body of information possible also came from a number of sources. The principal financial contributions were made by the Office of Manpower, Automation, and Training, U.S. DepartmeM of Labor, and the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Copies of the eomphte papem as prepared by the authors and as need at the Conference are available from the Natioaal Con-Anittm for Children and Youth. See Appendix.

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Jr., MRS. THOMAS HERLIHY, Chairman, National Committee for Children and Youth.


A broad and integrated conceptual approach is necessary to fully

-Anderstand problems of rural youth and to better appreciate the contributions these youth can make to our society. Accordingly, the 54 background papers were developed from a general conceptual outline based on the conditions encountered by most rural youth today. For the purpcces of publication and to eliminate duplication among these independently prepared papers, most papers on closely related topics have been combined and are organized into chapters around the general outline used for developing the original background papers. This outline consists of six interrelated parts: (a) Their Rural Community Backgrounds; (b) Rural Education; (c) Physical and Mental Health of Rural Youth; (d) Prevention and Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency in Rural Areas; (e) Adapting to Urban Ways; and (f) Helping Socially Disadvantaged Rural Youth. The Appendix provides a listing of the authors and titles of all 54 original papers. Also, at the beginning of each chapter that now contains material combined from 6wo or more original background papers, the authors of the original papers are identified, as is the person who prepared the present chapter based on the original background papers.

Part One, "Their Rural Community Backgrounds," consists of four chapters. Rural youth are the heirs of the economic, social, family, educational, and cultural systems of their communities. We begin, therefore, with an examination of salient demographic, economic, family, and community structures and processes that influence the development of rural youth.

Because formal educational attainment is becoming increasingly linked to occupational, economic, and social achievement, and because education is, therefore, becoming increasingly complex, Part Two is devoted entirely to rural education, and the educational attainment and aspirations of rural youth.

Part Three, contains a comprehensive examination of physical health problems among rural children and youth and identifies mental retardation and mental health problems and proposes programs for treatment of these problems in rural areas.

Because of the national significance of juvenile delinquency and because of the impact of large scale programs developed by the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development in cooperation with the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime, Part F our is concerned with the need for more effective programs in rural areas for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency and for the custody and treatment of juvenile and youthful offenders.

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