AbstractIn the debate on youthwork two questions are alternately emphasized: ‘what is youthwork?’ and ‘how do we get young people into youth work?’ At the moment the second question receives most attention. That question looks less threatening than the first for the added value of youth work is not questioned. It remains to be seen whether this is a good thing for youth work and for youth. In the first part of this article we argue that this is not the case. Certainly not for the most vulnerable young people, since interventions by youth work working with that group can lead to counter productive effects.
For instance, preventive signaling, with it’s strong focus on potential risc cases, can lead to interventions that might be premature and do not always seem adequate (the prevention paradox). And the adjustment of youth work to specific groups tends to enhance the seperate circuits that already exist in the domain of education (the accessability paradox). In the second part we give a rough sketch of our findings from an empirical research on the added value of youth work. Finally we open up new perspectives for a less marginalising and more historical definition of youth work.