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Whether you are a teacher, youth worker, parent, community educator, or activist, you have most likely been granted access to young people in an institution that itself reflects and may perpetuate certain forms of injustice. You may be charged with focusing on a particular area of youth behavior that adults have identified —or diagnosed—as a problem. Some of the most commonly identified problems include drug abuse, gangs, bullying, family violence, teen-dating violence and sexual assault, sexuality, media impact on youth, and the umbrella term “youth violence.” Any of these issues can serve as a lens to facilitate social-justice education. But if the focus is on fixing young people and returning them, thus fixed, to institutional environments that are oppressive to them without giving them the information and skills they need to work together to address that oppression, then the work would be better labeled “youth management” than “social justice.”
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