University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Youth ‘at risk’: further marginalizing the marginalized?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 01:07 authored by Kitty te RieleKitty te Riele
Youth ‘at risk’ is the currently favoured label used in Australian policy for youth whose educational outcomes are considered too low, with an emphasis on the risk of not completing senior secondary education. Although some research has identified factors contributing to this risk as stemming from complex interactions between individual and family circumstances as well as characteristics of schools and society, policy identification of youth ‘at risk’ has tended to simplistically focus on personal attributes of young people. Moreover, this identification has set up a false distinction between a supposed problematic minority versus a ‘normal’ majority. Thus, the dominant conceptualization of youth ‘at risk’ draws attention to what is wrong with these youth, rather than to what may be wrong with schooling. This paper examines both empirical observations and discursive conceptualizations to critique the ‘youth at risk’ label, and proposes use of the concept of ‘marginalized students’ instead, which identifies individuals not through their personal characteristics but through their relationship with schooling. This approach allows recognition that marginalization is at least in part a product of schools and society, and requires action in those arenas.


Publication title

Journal of Education Policy








Peter Underwood Centre


Taylor & Francis Ltd

Place of publication

4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, England, Oxon, Ox14 4Rn

Rights statement

© 2006 Taylor & Francis

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania