Given that a quarter of high school-age boys work, researchers have made considerable effort to understand the role of employment in the lives of young people. While some point to the negative effects, saying that working distracts students from school, others suggest benefits, claiming that working builds character and self-esteem.(26)
Specifically, research has shown that young people who work more than 20 hours per week are more likely to drop out of high school, engage in risky behavior, and become delinquent, among other negative consequences. Young people who work fewer than 20 hours per week are more likely to have positive family relationships and go to college.
Complicating the research landscape is the fact that not all boys want to work, and only a portion of those who do can find a job. For example, researchers have found that boys who live in a two-parent family and expect to go to college are more likely to be employed. Boys who live in low-income households and in areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment are less likely to have a job.
Gabriel appears to be one of the fortunate boys who enjoys his work, finds it compatible with his school schedule, and has a supervisor who recognizes his efforts. But not all boys can find jobs like these.
Research into what works to build boys’ strengths and reduce the challenges they face is still growing. Although the results are promising, efforts continue to pinpoint what strengths make some boys more likely to succeed and what risks, or challenges, increase the likelihood that they will struggle.