Rural small town living can be an extremely peaceful, tranquil and beautiful place to live and raise children. The slow pace and friendly community atmosphere give such a welcoming and wholesome feeling to those who live in rural areas, and for those who are visitors.
Sometimes we can not see past this beautiful and simple way of life. There are challenges that we must face for those who live in rural areas, especially the youth.
The youth of today are faced with many challenges, all ranging from their education, home life and peers. However, rural youth are presented with plenty of challenges that may not be as prominent in urban youth.
These seven challenges have been brought to my attention by rural youth themselves.
The 9 Challenges for Rural Youth
~Lack of Easily Accessible Post-Secondary Education~
Smaller towns generally do not have many colleges or universities to attend, limiting the academic reach of today’s youth. Without post-secondary education being offered within town limits, many youths who live with family can not afford the extra expenses that come with accommodations when moving to a new town or city. A lot of youth will settle for a degree that was not their first choice, merely because it is offered in their hometown.
The lack of easily accessible post-secondary education has major effects on youth, they are limited to their career choices and limits their potential for great success in their lives.
~Shortage of Employment~
It is no surprise that rural areas struggle to maintain sufficient employment streams, especially full-time employment. This makes it very difficult for youth to support themselves and grow into self-sufficient adults. Some youth have no choice but to leave their families and find employment elsewhere, while others keep struggling to obtain the proper amount of working hours to support themselves.
Having this challenge can make saving money for future endeavours seem impossible. However, it is crucial for youth today to be able to save their money so they can attend post-secondary schooling, purchase houses or cars, or simply save for emergencies.
~Minimal Cultural Experiences~
Cultural experiences aid in expressing creativity, diversity, understanding and acceptance. Cultural experiences are ways to participate in learning, entertaining, and sharing with others. The lack of cultural experiences in rural towns can be seen from the minimalistic libraries, artisan shows, theatres and studios. When youth do participate in cultural community events, it helps them to understand acceptance and diversity.
~Lack of Public Transportation~
Easily and affordable public transportation is very uncommon in rural areas. This can have a major impact on the lives of today’s youth, limiting them to where they can work and activities they can attend. It is important for youth to be involved in various activities, this helps to develop social and essential life skills.
Lack of public transportation can really hinder the potential for some youth who can not afford their own vehicle or borrow someone else’s. Public transportation does not only allow for involvement in employment and activities, it also aids in the development of independence and responsibility.
~Health Care Shortages~
In rural communities, it can be difficult to receive adequate health care, due to the shortages of doctors and professionals. There is an extreme shortage of mental health aid and professionals in rural areas. Many youths tend to struggle with various mental health issues, ranging from mild to severe. Receiving help and support when needed is critical in managing and living with mental health issues.
Youth find it extremely difficult to ask for help, and when they do ask they are usually placed on a waitlist where they stay for months and months. During this wait, many youths remove themselves from the list or they tend to have increased mental health issues, which can lead to suicide. This is why it is a challenge for those who suffer from mental health issues to live in rural areas.
~Lack of Youth Centers and Activities~
It is important for youth to remain busy and involved in many different things, it encourages self-development and social engagement. There is a lack of funding in rural areas for youth centres and youth-related activities. Youth centres do aid youth in the development of social skills and self-acknowledgement. Centres give support and guidance that is crucial for youth to receive, they are faced with many adversities and seek support from fellow youth and staff at these youth centres.
Youth centres provide a free and non-judgemental space for youth to be themselves and grow as strong individuals. Youth struggling with low self-worth can benefit from the positive atmosphere and relationships from youth centres. When youth are busy and engaged in their community, it can aid with lower rates of mental health issues and substance abuse.
There seems to be a growing trend of increased substance abuse in many rural areas. There could be many factors that play a role in this increase, however, one may be simply that youth are not engaged in enough activities. Without constant engagement, youth may become bored and are easily pressured into trying various substances.
Also, youth who have a strong sense of self-worth are less likely to engage in these behaviours. Many things can affect a person’s self-worth, such as lack of support or resources, lack of mental health services, and lack of self-fulfillment. Please read 9 Reasons for Low Self-worth in Young People, for further information on self-worth struggles for youth.
~Slow Technological Advances~
Rural areas are always the last to receive any new technological advances, such as fiber optic internet. These faults in technology can affect the careers and education that youth can partake in. A lot of our lives deal with the internet and technology in so many ways, it has become crucial for some. Youth especially are generally technology savvy, and rely on technology in so many different ways. Lack of current technology does have an effect on the amount of youth who live in rural areas.
All of the above challenges can have an impact on youth homelessness. This is something that does get overlooked, however, it is an issue in a lot of rural areas. The focus on homelessness is generally placed in major cities where there is a much larger population. There is a definite issue of youth homelessness in both urban and rural areas. A lot of youth who are homeless tend to couch surf, finding a different place to stay regularly.
Youth need many support systems in their lives that are readily available to help aid them in fighting homelessness or at-risk of being homeless.
If youth can overcome and learn to cope with these challenges, rural living can be extremely beneficial to them. Rural living can be a great place to welcome and raise a family. It is important to know that these challenges exist so they can prepare themselves properly to overcome them.
On a Personal Note
Personally, I live in a small town and I would not change this. I have been presented with a number of challenges due to the size of the town, however, it has proved to be more than worth the challenges that I have faced. Starting and raising a family in a small town is something that I am proud to be doing. Small rural towns do have a strong sense of community, people are able to overcome challenges that are presented to them and come together as a united community.
Visit True Life Enhancements for more information on the services offered to aid in developing life skills in young people.
Also, for valuable resources for life skill development, please visit the TLEresource Shop.
Please feel free to comment with your opinions and concerns.
I would like to thank you for your support!