Mandatory Community Service

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Is community service a punishment? Since the twentieth century till now, community service duties and definition changed from one generation to another. Before community service was only through selective service law, which allowed the young men to delay it through science, marriage, or teaching. Young people avoided the Vietnamese war draft by volunteering to clean hospitals. The following generation rejected mandatory civic duty for their generation and the era of volunteerism started by emphasizing the simple act of charity.

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[bookmark: _Hlk1862600]Source one. Today, according to Neil Howe and William Straus’s book Millennials Rising, the term “Service learning” started to appear with the newest generation of Americans “Millennial”. Studies show that community service express the true meaning of volunteering that lies in the individual will in helping others and by enforcing community service on high school students to graduate will make community service lose their real meaning and have bad impact on students. Today, the whole community especially the young generation who is so keen to serve the community more in many ways through volunteering, without the obligation of service learning. However, Howe and Strauss emphasized that five out of six Millennials “believe their generation has the greatest duty to improve the environment” and any extra “civic duties” will be accepted to accomplish any necessary change. Students who believe and understand the real meaning of service activities and want to develop themselves for many reasons to help the community, but certainly not for the school demands.

Source three supports Howe and Strauss conclusion, that freewill volunteering gives the best results by giving a real example of freewill volunteering, and how this kind of volunteering can allow the volunteer to see other option for his/her future career other than the ones he/she had planned for themselves. An article in Detroit News article describes how a thirteen years old young boy, John Prueter, started to volunteer when his great-grandmother was placed in one of the assisted living homes. Prueter had “always [been] close to” this love to his great-grandmother made him volunteer to remain close to her, also his honest work that came from his heart allowed him to discover the real meaning of volunteering and to discover more about himself. Volunteering helped Prueter to discover a new career he never thought about it, and that was nursing. The article emphasizes that freewill volunteering and honest work, will benefit the individual and the community too.

Source five agrees with the previous sources that mandatory service can not be productive and it will abolish the real spirit of volunteerism. Here the following two studies, which were published in the journal Psychological Science, emphasize that making community service mandatory “can have negative effects on students’ intentions to volunteer freely in the future”. Also, the same studies showed that the more the students get involved in the community service and not forced, they will be more likely “free choice” volunteer where they are unaffected by a mandate to serve as compared with a choice. Moreover, the concept of service learning is “”required”” to graduate from high school and to get into a prestigious college, that made many students became self-interest instead of becoming more selflessness.

Mandatory service supporters argue that it isn’t important if the student choose for himself or if it is obligatory, the most important is the spirit of the service.

Both sides of the debate have the same goal of “service learning” as both want to have a lasting experience but different ways to execute it. A clear example of volunteering when it is supported with “free choice” in service duties. That was clear in John Prueter story. He already knows that “his dream job…is working where he volunteers now”, that ensure that the best way of students to volunteer in the future is to give them the chance to experience that they are valuable. Those kinds of experiences will only come from encouragement, support and more importantly from their own freewill.

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Mandatory Community Service. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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