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No jobs for "at risk" youth

by Arthur Weinreb, Associate Editor,
Friday, July 14, 2006

A Malvern area youth worker was quoted this week as saying that a program set up to find jobs for "at risk" youth has been a failure.

The program began in March and was a joint effort by the Toronto Board of Trade and the city of Toronto. Its goal was to find 1,000 jobs by September for youth who live in one of 13 Toronto neighbourhoods such as the Jane/Finch corridor and Malvern that have been designated as being disadvantaged areas. According to the worker, Ajamu Nangwaya, only 82 of the proposed 1,000 jobs have so far been obtained and out of all of the Toronto Board of Trade’s members, only 20 firms have been willing to participate in the program. Nangwaya has said that the youth were being stereotyped, especially young African Canadian males.

What is really surprising is not how far below the target that the program is, but the fact that 82 jobs were actually found for these "at risk" youth.

While there is no doubt that racial stereotyping has played a part in the lack of participation from the private sector and lack of job offers, those on the left who purport to help these youth are not immune from this type of stereotyping. The left, which includes the majority of the members of Toronto City Council, do not particularly care about individuals or individual rights except when it comes to criminals and terrorists. They love to divide everyone into groups and then argue that all groups should have equal rights.

It was a noble idea to try and find jobs for those young people who would otherwise experience difficulty finding employment. But the chances of finding employment of youth who are growing up in lower socioeconomic areas of the city were dimmed after they were stereotyped not by prospective employers but by those who are purporting to help them find these jobs. In order to feel good about themselves, the left has labelled these kids as being "at risk" youth.

When a label such as "at risk" is attached to someone, the question that naturally arises is, at risk from what? Clearly they are not at risk because they are members of a particular racial group or of a lower socioeconomic status. The only possible inference that can be drawn from the term "at risk" is that they are at risk of becoming gang members. So in effect, the private sector are being asked to create employment and give jobs to those who are one step away from joining a gang, getting a gun, and using it.

It may be hard for many of these do-gooders to believe but there are young black males who are being raised by good families in Toronto’s poorer neighbourhoods who are not on the verge of joining a gang. It is, of course these youth that need help to overcome the difficulties that they have by being given a chance to get a job and become productive members of society. But they have been stereotyped and labelled as potential gang members by the very people who are promoting these employment programs. And then comes not unexpected hand-wringing about how awful it is that businesses are following their lead in viewing these youth as all being potential members of gangs.

It’s tempting to say that whoever thought up the term "at risk" to describe young people who live in certain areas of the city, should be shot. But chances are they never go anywhere near the places where that is very likely to happen.

Arthur Weinreb Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Toronto Free Press. His work has appeared on, Men's News Daily, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck and The Rant.
Arthur can be reached at:
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