We segregate our young as early as six weeks when we place them in daycare so the parents can get back in their car and drive away to work. The children are deprived of role models: we sit them in front of a TV, PC or tablet with no idea of what they are watching - much of what they vicariously experience is highly distorted; it's not real life.
They graduate to age-segregated schools, on isolated campuses where their only role models are the teachers trying to maintain control, and again, the vast amount of their out-of-school time is spent viewing electronic packaged-fantasy images. The subject matter at school means little to them; it's more about passing tests and getting grades than learning the social and productive skills that enable societies to thrive.
When they graduate school (if they finish), most find they cannot find jobs; the few who do get a job, often arrive unprepared to work. The employer has to teach them how to be productive.
Then when they wish to make the transition to adulthood, buy a home, start a family and become participating adults in society, they find they cannot afford the home, especially if they are saddled with student debt.
This makes no sense. It is abnormal. It is not how societies are expected to work.
To enable youth to be born into and become contributing adult members of society, the physical infrastructure needs to change, and the local economy needs to provide a path toward adulthood. It's not that hard, it's just different. It is also not new; it's the way society worked for the first 10,000 years of village and town life until we rescaled development patterns from human-scaled to transport-scaled.
- Provide day care on the village plazas so parents can work nearby, but their children are observing real life from the very beginning
- Make the streets car-free so it is safe for children to roam (the latest buzz word is free-range children)
- Build the school classrooms on the village plazas so children observe and interact with a wide range of adults
- Instead of a school cafeteria, children eat at the affordable village cafe or walk home and have lunch with their family
- Ensure a place for elders in the villages - culture is passed on from elders to youth because both have the time and the interest
- Design the plazas with places for teens to hang out - make them public enough to be safe, but separate enough to be fun
- Design a surrounding greenbelt so children have access to Nature - a Tom Sawyer childhood
- Compete with electronic and drug/alcohol stimulation by ensuring there are a lot of really interesting things to do
- Build a multi-intelligence high school in the center (academic, arts, vocational & high tech) that is integrated with the community
- Build participatory sports facilities - sandlot ball games, ropes in trees, swimming pond, equestrian grounds, bike trails
- Secure an agreement with local employers to provide a number of entry-level jobs and schools to prepare the kids to take them
- Provide a youth zone with entry-level homes, affordable by those under age 26, that offers first-time home ownership
- Invite colleges and universities to open a field extension branch in the community to provide a post-graduate linkage