Challenges Confronted by Urban Youth

The steadily increasing rate of substance abuse among the youth is a major concern for modern society. In the United States, young people of Hispanic origin represent one of the groups that are most affected by this detrimental tendency. In their article, Saint-Jean and Crandall (2008) conduct an empirical study that determines the correlation between the use of language at home and inclination toward substance abuse. Their findings indicate that young Hispanic people who speak English at home exhibited a higher percentage of marijuana use. Based on this data, it is possible to state that cultural assimilation is major determinant of the tendency in question. However, on a more profound level, the issue extends beyond language and cultural properties. Apparently, those who speak English at home engage with the local society more closely. At this point, they encounter alienation and personal discrimination, created by the lack of trust and a history of oppression. These people’s inclination toward drug abuse becomes the natural response to this hostility, or an escapist attempt to evade it.

Youth is a fascinating period on its own, as it is associated with new discoveries and previously unseen experiences. Yet, this age is also connected with major challenges confronted by young people, especially in the urban setting. For them, youth is the period of complete uncertainty combined with the necessity to make serious choices, as depicted by Kozol (2012). Similar to Jeremy, thousands of urban students every year approach the point, at which they need to make the choice that will determine their lives for years ahead. For many of them, it becomes the clash of mind and soul, logic and inspiration. In spite of the desire to pursue the field that please them, these young people often opt for the areas that pay well. At this age, they encounter the necessity to provide for themselves by building careers and securing their housing situation. In urban environments, these challenges are particularly evident, as they are associated with intense lifestyles and competition across all spheres. As a result, this indeterminacy affects the mental state of young people as they make vital, long-term choices.


Kozal, J. (2012). Fire in the ashes. Crown Publishers.

Saint-Jean, G., & Crandall, L. A. (2008). Psychosocial mediators of the impact of acculturation on substance abuse among Hispanic youth: Findings from the Florida youth substance abuse survey. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 17(4), 133–152.

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