Addressing and Overcoming Barriers to Youth Civic Engagement

Maria J. D’Agostino, Anne Visser


Youth civic engagement—and particularly youth participation in properly designed youth programs—has indisputably favorable outcomes for the young people involved (Saito, 2006; Pancer et al., 2002; Flanagan et al., 2002). This research reviews the wide-ranging literature available on youth civic engagement in urban communities. Using content analysis, we identify organizations involved in youth engagement as well as barriers faced by organizations engaged in this policy arena. Our research also identifies 15 broad types of barriers that organizations seeking to encourage youth civic engagement encounter in building and delivering successful youth engagement programs. In addition, we discuss the emergent social and political barriers that are prevalent among the identified service organizations. Ultimately, we argue that such barriers are important influences in determining the ability of organizations to effectively serve their clients.

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