Give Them the Opportunity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Kids today are growing up too fast. This common adult complaint describes almost everything teens want to do these days, certainly their after-school jobs. It is not uncommon to see teens selling clothes at the mall or working at a restaurant. Many adults, however, feel these jobs require too much time and pull teens away from more important obligations, including school and family.

Nevertheless, more students continue to take on jobs and juggle the responsibilities that come with them. It is not unusual for some of the brightest and best to be employed. The lessons learned and experiences gained with these jobs are irreplaceable. They provide a positive environment where teens can learn valuable life skills.

Many adults believe that the damage done by jobs outweighs the benefits. They see jobs as forcing kids to grow up too quickly. They feel that teenagers should focus on schoolwork and argue that jobs require too much time. To many, jobs seem unnecessary for teenagers. This is especially true in my school district where teenagers are generally not expected to help support their families. Many parents do not feel the need to place this "burden" on their children.

However, for many, working is not a burden but something they enjoy. A job provides another place where they can meet people. Furthermore, students like working because they earn spending money. Parents may think that teens enjoy asking for money, but in reality they do not. Making money gives them a new freedom and helps them feel more independent.

Teens learn important skills they could never learn at school, including being responsible and committed that will help when they get into the real work force. People are always more prepared when they are experienced. Why, then, should teens not be allowed to get this experience?

Although many parents feel that after-school jobs require too much time, many of these adults support participating in after-school activities, like sports and clubs. These parents must not realize the commitment and time that is required to be involved in these activities. Debaters spend hours researching and athletes spend lots of time practicing. Some teens do spend too much time working, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.

Most students are able to manage the responsibilities that come with school and a job. In fact, many participate in a sport, too. It is these commitments that keep teens out of trouble. Adults often worry what teenagers will get into next. Responsibility and duty, though, will keep kids busy. Busy kids do not have time to get into trouble. If teens were not allowed to work, there would be an increase in problems because kids would be bored. The work place provides a safe place to spend time.

While many parents do not like teens having jobs, employment benefits both the teenager and the community. Skills acquired from jobs give kids the experience the real world which will help them later in life. The teenage years are a time when people learn about themselves and what they like. Jobs provide this chance, and also help the community. They keep kids doing productive things. Furthermore, society will benefit when these experienced workers take over the work force. It is essential that teens be given the chance.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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