Our society deals with a great diversity in opportunities for youth. Not all children and adolescents have access to the same educational resources, such as internet connection, access to homeschooling or parental support with schoolwork. There is a vast variation in young people’s socio-economic outcomes, such as job opportunities and stress about financial consequences.
Pre-existing inequalities become even more apparent in periods of crisis. During the pandemic, for example, many aspects of daily life, such as work, education, and healthcare, were forced to move online. Consequently, adolescents growing up in lower-income households, rural areas, or marginalized communities faced even greater challenges than normal. Their ability to engage in remote learning and to stay connected with teachers and peers was highly affected, which exacerbated existing inequalities in academic achievement and opportunities to develop optimally.
GUTS strives to provide equal opportunities in education, peer networks or antisocial backgrounds for all young people in society, regardless of socio-economic status. We aim to create more insights to understand the mechanisms through which some adolescents manage to make a successful transition to adulthood in terms of societal contribution: education, employment, social relationships, delinquency and general quality in life. Whereas some adolescents experience many more difficulties in making this transition.
There is momentum for creating these opportunities for science-based interventions. Scientific knowledge has made big steps in using perspectives from multiple scientific fields to create optional conditions for youth. Brain scientists have made great discoveries in understanding the dynamics of the developing brain. Psychologists and sociologists are collaborating across multiple cohorts and countries to understand the underpinnings of individual differences in developmental trajectories and outcomes. Child Psychiatrists are bringing knowledge on youth as a window of opportunity to the forefront for better youth-based policy. GUTS brings together all these perspectives, with scientists from multiple backgrounds who care deeply about fundamental knowledge and science-society implementation.
Understanding the impact of your starting point in life on how young people function in societal contexts provides us with the knowledge and tools to better shape society into more equal chances for all youth.