Understanding the Characteristics and Needs of the Group and its Members
For our purposes, a characteristic is: “a trait, quality, or property distinguishing an individual, group or type.” A need is “a want, a requirement, feeling the lack of something that is missing.” The characteristics and needs of youth can vary widely from one person to the next. They often depend on the young person’s background in the home, church, and other organizations as well as the particular situation at the moment.
Each member of the group has some important needs. At the basic level is his need for food, water, shelter and warmth. The next level involves the need for safety and security. Next, is the need for friends, association with others, interpersonal relationships, order, and a feeling of belonging. At the fourth level, needs include recognition, self-respect, independence, and self esteem. The final level involves the need for self-fulfillment, confidence, achievement, and growth to the individual’s full potential.
Recognizing these needs and how well they are met will often explain the characteristics of the members of the group. If one level of needs has been somewhat met, then other needs emerge as dominant. A boy from an unstable family in an urban poverty neighborhood ridden with street crime may respond quite differently than one from a stable and loving middle income family residing in the safety of the suburbs. A relationship between the observed characteristics and the true needs of an individual may in fact be playing a role in an attempt to feel secure. On the other hand, the quiet and reserved person may be so self-conflicted that he or she sees no need to attract attention.
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