YCC Rewind 1x

YE01

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M any people assume that there are higher rates of youth homelessness, drug abuse, and crime are in large urban areas, mostly in the big cities. Recently, it was been stated by the past Director of Public Education and Prevention for Operation Come Home that at any given time there are about 100 street kids living in downtown Ottawa. However, most of these youth are originally from small towns in the surrounding Ottawa Valley; at least 40% of the homeless youth in cities originate from rural areas. Youth drug abuse may be a problem in cities, but it is amplified in small towns. Youth in northern rural areas are more likely to smoke and binge drink than youth in urban regions. In general, there is more alcohol abuse and higher smoking rates in rural youth. Students from northern rural regions of Ontario were found to be more likely to engage in drug practices than students from Toronto. Teen tobacco use is significantly higher in rural communities (12%) than in urban centres, almost doubling the rate of use in Toronto (7%). Education is also a concern for rural youth. The Canadian Rural Partnership Research report stated that youth in rural regions have a lower occurrence of post-secondary education, with rates much lower in Northeastern Ontario than the national average. Incompletion of high school is also more prevalent in smaller communities than in urban centres. This is suggested to be a possible result of a sense of alienation and isolation, which can be magnified by small town living where few social outlets and means of transportation are available. However, the most major challenge facing rural youth is health. Health in rural and remote parts of Canada lags behind the health of urban residents. Youth in northern rural regions of Canada report lower self-rated health and functional health, and male youth in small towns are at highest risk of obesity. Depression is also a factor, as the rate of suicide is much higher in rural communities than in major urban centres. There are also health conditions associated with drug use, such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Youth centres can help combat the issues facing teens in rural commu- nities. Youth Centres activities are extra-curricular, and offer youth an opportunity on increase their levels of engagement as citizens, and leads to overall strengthening of communities by providing them a safe inclusive place to access resources, develop skills, and make better choices for their future. Youth Centres are the prime facility of choice that youth voluntarily turn to when seeking advice and help in times of crisis. They also engage these at-risk youth – unlike youth councils within schools or within municipalities that are composed largely of youth who are already highly engaged. Centres provide a drug-free environment for youth, and create opportunities to experience healthy active living and "clean" fun. Youth centres have shown to decrease probability of youth substance abuse. After-school programs and homework clubs can decrease high school dropout rates and increase post-secondary school attendance from rural areas. These after school programs can also minimize crime, as it provides youth with something to do during the time when most rural crime occurs (2:00pm to 6:00pm). Youth centres provide trusted and safe services for youth, acting as front-line partners with local mental health agencies in addressing issues such as bullying or sexual identity. In both urban and rural areas, Youth Centres can play a key role in keeping the youth on tract to live a successful life. Mitura, V. and Bollman, R. (2004). Health status and behaviours of Canada's youth: A rural-urban comparison. Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin, 5(3): 1-22. Voakes, L. (2006). Rural youth facts. TYPS 2006 Background Paper, 1-6. Tremblay, Stéphane, Susan Dahinten and Dafna Kohen. (2003) "Factors related to adolescents' self-perceived health." Supplement to Health Reports (Ottawa: Statistics Canada): 82(14), 7-16 Pitblado, J.R. et al. (1999) Assessing Rural Health: Toward Developing Health Indicators for Rural Canada. Sudbury: Laurentian University, Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research. (www.laurentian.ca/cranhr/pdf/indicat/indcatrs.pdf) Shields, Margot and Stéphane Tremblay. (2002). The Health of Canada's Communities. Supplement to Health Reports (Ottawa: Statistics Canada): 82(13). Rural Youth 19

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