The “invisible young people” between the cage of poverty and the desire for salvation

We offer the reader an excerpt from the band of Giuseppe Di Fazio, the first book published by our magazine. A survey on the impact of educational poverty in the South, but also a look at some stories that point to the possibility of another tomorrow

The big cities of the south, even if they can hold important industrial settlements, renowned universities or airports, all suffer – from Naples to Palermo, from Reggio Calabria to Catania – of the same impossibility: young people as a key resource for development and therefore enable them value to generate the territories. This is why new generations – even graduates and high school graduates – are fleeing the South and those who remain often fall into the category of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), ie young people who are not studying, working or in Training) or, worse, in that of “at risk” children. The serious negligence of the municipalities and regions towards the younger generations is evident from the data on spring, which are 5.3 points higher in the south than in the north of the country. Without cultivating human capital, the cities of the South prevent themselves from social and economic growth. Furthermore, tackling and investing in the issue of minors would also be the first and crucial way to combat the various mafia conditions that plague social life in the South.

“Where the education and training offerings of the state cannot be reached, crime often arises.”

Sicilian Anti-Mafia Commission

Minors in the hands of the Mafia. As Magistrate Sebastiano Ardita writes, it is not right to think that the more Mafia children in prison, the more the state has won. Instead, “the figure for victory over the military mafia is not the number of those we are capable of imprisoning, but the number of those we have removed from the fast lane.” It is enough to read the reports of the magistrates for the inauguration of the year 2022 in the big cities of the south or to carry out the investigation into the juvenile condition in Sicily produced by the ARS Anti-Mafia Commission in 2022. “Where there is poverty, deterioration and early school exchanges – argues for example the Advocate General at the Court of Naples, Luigi Riello – the Chamorra can only act as a feeling of well-being”. The same can be said about the Mafia in a reality like that of Etna, which, according to the President of the Court of Catania Filippo Pennisi, presents an alarming situation: “most of the 80,000 minors living in the territory over which it Jurisdiction The Juvenile Court – writes Pennisi – lives in conditions of obvious “pedagogical poverty” and in an environment very lacking in administrative resources, as well as in the prevention and pedagogical support services, both in the school and in the socialization sphere ». the Mafia thus fertile ground for recruiting their Picciotti, because – as the Sicilian Anti-Mafia Family Commission writes – “where the educational and educational offerings of the state achieve unorganized crime, with a system of seduction, values ​​and recruitment that lasts forever” marked the fate of these minors ».

The cover of the book

ONE “EDUCATIONAL PACT”. The national government also seems to be aware of the problem, and is moving accordingly. It is no coincidence that at the signing of the Security Agreement, signed on 19 January 2022 in Naples by the Prefect of Naples, President of the Region and Mayor, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese recalls the importance of an “educational pact” between institutions and civil society. In the same circumstances, Minister Lamorgese, referring to the Neapolitan situation, stressed that “school vacations are a problem that should not be underestimated, because in 2021 alone in the city over 2000 cases of school abandonment will be reported “Primary and High School”.

AND THE FUN OF PINO PUGLISI. Don Pino Puglisi, the pastor of Brancaccio, who was assassinated by the Mafia in Palermo in 1993, well understood that the education of minors was the main focus of the attack on the invasive culture of organized crime: “The first objectives they are children and adolescents – said in a meeting with the volunteers of his parish in Brancaccio 1992 – with them we still have time, pedagogical action can be effective, with adults everything is more difficult. With children we must not make philosophical speeches, we must instead help them to understand their human dignity, to give meaning to their lives.And even at that age it is not easy because so many children are forced to work or steal.And many girls are forced to do worse because it There are no cases of child prostitution in the neighborhood. So no abstract psycho-pedagogical theories. The child of these families can not understand them. Instead he understands the gestures , made, the moments of the game, of living together, living with a new style compared to those he knows at home. (…) This gives children the chance to see life in a different way ». It is also true that without the resources of the younger generations, the South cannot strive for decent development. Exploiting failures, or worse, representing the potential of young people in their human capital in the first fifteen years of the 21st century.

“Every month delay in the start of vocational training costs the commune at least 20 million euros”

Roberto Cellini, Economist

DELOCATION OF DATA. Italy is still today, in fact, one of the largest NEET factories in Europe. Against an EU average of 13.7%, the Italian NEET average reaches 23.3%, with peaks of 38.6% in Sicily. In total, young Italians in the age group 15-29, who are not working, studying or training, exceeded 2 million by 2020 and represent about one-fifth of the total European NEETs. This situation entails enormous social costs. In 2013, the Eurofond estimated the economic loss of NEETs (30.6 billion for Italy) for the EU at 153 billion euros per year at a cost of 1.2% of GDP. Enormous costs also lead to early school leaving, which is particularly prevalent in southern Italy. An example to get an idea about the extent of “damage”. In 2015, economist Roberto Cellini, now director of the Department of Economics and Business at the University of Catania, commissioned a study to quantify the damage caused by the chronic delays in the start of vocational training courses in Sicily at the time. were. over 10 thousand minors of compulsory age. “Every month delays in starting the courses – wrote Cellini – cost the municipality at least 20 million euros.” The presence in the south of a very high number of NEETs (34%) and of children in early school leaving (16.3% with peaks of 22% in some Sicilian capitals) seriously affects the socio-economic fabric, both because it favors flight of young people from the south, both because it feeds the growth of juvenile delinquency. But the drama of these southern boys, written by Alessandro Pronzato in a book on scampia by Davide Cerullo in collaboration with Davide Cerullo compared to “Angels with Burned Wings”, does not seem to interest anyone.

REDEMPTION STORIES. Children born in the southern Bronx (San Cristoforo in Catania; Zen or Brancaccio in Palermo; Scampia in Naples; the small towns with a high density of ‘Ndrangheta and Calabria’) were forced to live in the “cage” in which they lived. were born? Or do they have the opportunity to come to freedom, to choose their own future and destiny? And if so, through which roads? These are the questions we try to answer by telling some virtual examples. In particular, we will be looking at some attempts that have been made in the South to give young people, especially those who are at risk, the opportunity to control their own future and to choose freely.

The volume can be purchased in preview at the library:
Mondadori Librairie, Piazza Roma 18, Catania
San Paolo Bookshop, via Vittorio Emanuele, 182 Catania

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