Enabling: The Bane of Youth Work

By Khadijah Ali-Coleman

Being supportive is often misconstrued as enabling and vice versa. Recognize the difference and make sure that your actions are not labeling you as an enabler.

Enabling does not promote positive youth development. Enabling includes behaviors by youth workers that allow young people to avoid the negative consequences of their actions. It can include :

  • Offering a young person a reward incentive they did not earn.
  • Allowing a young person who consistently is disrespectful and inappropriate to staff and peers remain in a group setting
  • Allowing the youth to come up with rules and consequences as a group and overruling their decisions for some youth who don’t follow them.

Enabling typically is a culprit when a standard has been set and you allow a young person to not reach the standard (though they are able to) but still be rewarded and/or avoid penalty.

Read More about Enabling HERE

On Feb. 12, 2008 in Baltimore, MD, the weather was icy and frigid. Despite the freezing temperatures, over 150 people showed up to attend the opening of the stage play Shades of Black: a thought in progress, written and directed by Khadijah Ali-Coleman. The play ran Feb. 12-14, boasting attendance numbers each night after opening of over 200.
Shades of Black: a thought in progress follows a week in the life of Moon, a college student who experiences a change in perspective as she participates in the Jena 6 protest and encounters different situations involving pivotal people in her life. Students of Morgan State University’s AEP Artist Collective, which Ali-Coleman is an advisor for, starred in the production.
Shades of Black has adult themes and language.

Ali-Coleman (bottom row, 3rd from left) with female cast members