PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University senior David McClung made the most of his education experience by choosing the honors tract. Last week, McClung presented his honors thesis titled “Let’s Engage: Finding Youth Voice in Participatory Action Research.”
McClung, from Sundown, will receive his degree in psychology on Saturday. His research has focused on breaking through the stereotypes of youth behavior to more successfully open avenues of communication between youth and adults.
“There is this idea that we are so different,” McClung said. “But we aren’t.”
McClung says the problem is that both sides are trying to be heard while maintaining the thought that the other side is not listening. His research shows that nearly 80 percent of youth just want to be heard. They want to have a voice concerning issues that affect them.
“Youth have potential if we are willing to empower them,” McClung said.
He also looks at the lack of communication between agencies, saying this is adding to the problem when trying to assist youth who are in trouble. McClung said there are numerous organizations that are willing to help such as churches and government organizations like Child Protective Services and crisis centers. But there are still gaps as the groups are incapable of working together due to regulations or the unwillingness to share resources.
“There is an idea that we have to protect our resources instead of sharing them,” he said. “Youth have the desire to make a change, but it takes collaboration and building relationships.”
McClung used the Muppets as an example. Kermit and friends come from a diverse background. The Muppets consist of frogs, pigs, dogs, rats, chickens, bears and other animals and people who work together.
“Despite diverse personalities, they are able to complete their objectives one way or another,” he said.
According to McClung, this type of cooperation and communication is what society needs to successfully reach youth who need help.