As we work to accurately count all residents in the 2020 Census, there is one thing we can be certain of Hispanic youth will be a much larger percentage of the population than they were the last time (2010) around. As recently as 2016 Pew Center research showed a 22% increase in the under-age-18 Hispanic population between 2006-2016, for a total of 18.3 million youth. Ninety-percent of these youth are U.S. born citizens, with more than 50% of them being second-generation Americans.
Like many first- and second-generation youth before them, they are faced with the challenging opportunity to choose what, of their heritage, they will hold onto and what they will release in order to grasp their vision of the “American Dream.” Surrounded by a growing group of Hispanic leaders at every level in our local community, they see varied living examples that may help to shape that vision. At the same time, their identity is influenced by growing up in this culture and developing their own sense of what it means to be “American.”
As they navigate their way, educator Deborah Roffman advises that the adults in their lives share 5 responsibilities:
- Affirm them
- Provide the information they need at this developmental stage
- Help them to clarify their values
- Continue to set appropriate limits
- Offer guidance as we gradually turn them over to themselves.
While cultures and families may have their own particular values, Roffman asserts that there are 4 core values we can all agree on: respect, responsibility, honesty, and compassion.
As each of our youth carves out their own identity, they also help to form our identity as a community. We need to be in this together.
by Nadine J. Smet-Weiss, Community Liaison, Translation by Johnathan Rodriguez-Baez and Ana Villaman, Health Educators