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Today's youth get a bum rap

A variety of opinion polls indicate that popular beliefs about youth are sometimes skewed. Some, in the minority, believe that the lifestyle of most youth has become apocalyptically perilous! Many more have unfounded concerns about todays youth. I can tell you that, contrary to an ominous forecast about youth, the future looks very bright. Youth do commit crime, however, the crime rate for youth has fallen by over fifty percent since 1964 according to FBI crime statistics. In fact, youth are more often the victims of crime and not the perpetrators. According to FBI crime numbers, adults commit 88% of all crime. The 2005 Maltreatment report found that there were 133,000 confirmed maltreatment cases and these abuses were perpetrated largely by parents, guardians or caretakers. In Essex County the rate of indicated child abuse reports is 31.1, the New York State rate is 32.5. Illicit drug use and marijuana use has been declining for the past six years. The most recent figures for youth drug, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use indicate that overall, Essex County outcomes are improving when previous Essex County survey results are consulted. Comparisons to other region outcomes are not as optimistic. Essex County continues to struggle with underage drinking rates that do not compare favorably with other regions. Teen pregnancy rates are at historic lows according to the Center for Disease Control. Teen pregnancy rates have fallen by nearly 40% since 1990 and abortion rates have seen remarkable declines. The Essex County teen pregnancy rate for 15-17 year olds is 13.0; the New York State rate is 36.5. Of course, we are all concerned with youth and the many risks that they encounter. We can all agree that we need to know the risks that youth are taking and how we can act as a buffer against those risks. In order to address the needs of youth, a comprehensive approach is needed; one that is informed by common and legitimate understandings about youth. Remember, all kids count.

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