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The core principles of youth work


A definition of youth work could relate to its function, its aims, its inherent values, its methods, its activities or various combinations of these different aspects. Given this, it is not hard to understand why there in Europe are so many different definitions of youth work. These core principles take all these different aspects into account, they describe what makes youth work youth work and define, taken together, a common European ground for youth work.

The core principles listed here are the ones that are specific for youth work. There are of course other principles that organisations as well as individuals should strive to meet, such as transparency and honesty. Most of these are, however, self-evident and too many to be mentioned here.

For local youth work it is also important to look at these principles as a whole and not feeling obliged to answer to each one of them separately. Taken to the edge, there might for example be young people that have ideas that are contradictory to democracy and the equal rights of all young people. Youth work could never meet these ideas as such, but should of course try to reach these young people in a way that opens up for and stimulates change in attitudes and values.

Another example of this is that young women who have formed a group with the aim of combating sexual harassments in school should not be expected to answer to the core principle that youth work needs “to work actively inclusive and offer equal opportunities to all young people”, and be forced to invite young men to take part in their activities. There will also always be different forms of targeted youth work and projects that do not direct themselves to all young people.

These principles refer to what young people should be able to expect, not to what all youth work providers have to do.

Have a nice process! Go for change!