EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Summer interns need to develop moral fiber

2013-02-24T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Summer interns need to develop moral fiberBy Terry McCullough nwitimes.com
February 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Now that some of our most promising leaders have fallen from grace and Newtown, Conn., victims along with Hadiya Pendleton have been laid to rest, where do we go from here? Summer youth employment season is coming up. Maybe that will help ease the pain.

There's a lot of talk on the street that lack of jobs for youths is a major factor in the escalating violence in our communities. Sounds like someone believes jobs will help solve the problem.

I heard a radio commercial the other day advertising the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative's summer employment program. They are looking for businesses to take youths and young adults between ages 16 and 24 to work part time for about nine weeks from June through August. The employee will be paid by the NRI program, with no cost to the employer.

This program is supposed to help youths develop work skills that will prepare them for life and the world of work. But do these programs serve any purpose other than to maintain materialistic consumption?

Nine weeks of part-time employment will provide enough money to pay three months of cellphone bills, fast food for about 70 days, a new pair of gym shoes, an outfit or two, and mom may get $100 or $200 for household incidentals. That's it. Once the program is over, most will resume the status quo.

Many employers are skeptical about this type of program because they find themselves acting as babysitters faced with a youth population with no work ethic, unrealistic expectations of an employer's tolerance and flexibility for personal issues such as “baby mama drama,” antisocial personal behaviors including sagging pants, nasty tattoos, sexualized behaviors, drug use, cursing, etc. -- behaviors they can't or will not just turn on and off for a temporary job with no future. Very few subsidized employees are hired after these programs end.

So part of these programs should also incorporate an expectation from employers to help make certain our youths have opportunities to correct some of the bad habits we have allowed them to develop, like character, moral and ethics training.

Aldous Huxley, author of "Brave New World," published in 1931, once stated “If only people would realize that moral principles are like measles. ... They have to be caught. And only the people who've got them can pass on the contagion.”

So I hope these summer job program participants will find employers that can also help them build the moral fiber they are going to need to obtain real jobs in the future.

Just in case you need a refresher, moral fiber is good character made up of fortitude, honesty, incorruptibility, scruples, strength of mind, courage, determination, endurance, patience, perseverance, stamina, stick-to-itiveness, honesty, truthfulness, conscientiousness, fairness, faithfulness, fidelity, genuineness, honor, impeccability, integrity, loyalty, reputability, responsibility, self-respect, sincerity, straightforwardness, trustworthiness, uprightness, sincerity, allegiance, dependability, determination, endurance, honor, loyalty, regularity, stability, truthfulness, accountability, engagement and restraint.

Terry McCullough is program manager for the Thornton Township Youth Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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