Volume 73 Number 3
Federal Probation
 
     
     
 
 
JUVENILE FOCUS
   
 

By Alvin W. Cohn, D.Crim.
President, Administration of Justice Services, Inc.

Trends in Adolescent Inhalant Use: 2002 to 2007
Older Dads
Prescription Pain Killers are on the Rise
Juvenile Justice Reform
Probation and Parole Growth
Adolescent Substance Use
Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008
Juvenile Arrest Data for 2007
Effects of Harm
Substance Abusing Parents
Nation’s Report Card
Online Training
Abused Children Web Sites
Child Safety Statistics
Napping Four-Year-Olds
Boys’ Learning issues
Statistical Briefing Book
Highlights of the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey (Fact Sheet)
Juvenile Arrests 2007 (Bulletin)
Domestic Violence
Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)
Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)
Person Offense Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)
Juvenile Delinquency Probation Caseload, 2005 (Fact Sheet)
Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2005
School Grants
Teen Fatal Crashes
Disability Software
Community Colleges
College Access
Teen Dating Abuse
‘Sunny’ Young Adults
Teen Childbearing
Abduction Risks
Family Violence
Concussions
Unvaccinated Children
Baseball Injuries
Foreign Students
“Safety IQ”

 

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Trends in Adolescent Inhalant Use: 2002 to 2007

  • The percentage of adolescents (i.e., youths aged 12 to 17) who used inhalants in the past year was lower in 2007 (3.9 percent) than in 2003, 2004, and 2005 (4.5, 4.6, and 4.5 percent, respectively)

  • Among adolescents who used inhalants for the first time in the past year (i.e., past year initiates), the rate of use of nitrous oxide or “whippits” declined between 2002 and 2007 among both genders (males: 40.2 to 20.2 percent; females: 22.3 to 12.2 percent)

  • In 2007, 17.2 percent of adolescents who initiated illicit drug use during the past year indicated that inhalants were the first drug that they used; this rate remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2007.

  • Past-year dependence on or abuse of inhalants remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2007, with 0.4 percent of adolescents (around 99,000 persons) meeting the criteria for dependence or abuse in 2007.

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Older Dads

According to PlosS Medicine, in a study of 33,437 children born to parents of varying ages found that children ages eight months, four years, and seven years, the older the mother, the higher the child’s scores on various developmental and intelligence tests. The older the father, however, the lower the child’s scores, except on one test of physical coordination. Offspring of 20-year-old fathers scored, on average, 106.8 on an IQ test and 109.2 on a reading test, whereas children of 50-year-old fathers scored posted average scores of 100.7 and 102.6 on the same tests.

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Prescription Pain Killers are on the Rise

Treatment admissions for prescription pain killer misuse have risen dramatically over the past decade—from constituting 1 percent of all admissions in 1997 to now representing 5 percent, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2007 Highlights report also indicates that although alcohol-related admissions still account for the largest share (40 percent) of the 1.8 million treatment admissions occurring throughout the country during 2007; this reflects a reduction from 50 percent in 1997.

The TEDS 2007 Highlights report is the latest in a series of yearly reports, developed by SAMHSA, providing demographic and other information on substance abuse treatment admissions from state licensed treatment facilities (most of them publicly-funded) across the country. Although it does not include information on all treatment admissions, it is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind and provides a vast array of specialized data on the characteristics of substance abuse treatment in the United States. Among the findings:

  • The percentage of treatment admissions for primary heroin abuse is at about the same level it was a decade ago (14 percent).

  • The percentage of treatment admissions primarily due to methamphetamine/ amphetamine abuse is relatively small. Admissions accounted for 4 percent in 1997, rose to 9 percent in 2005, then decreased to 8 percent in 2006 and remained at 8 percent in 2007.

  • Even though the proportion of admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased from 12 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2003, admissions have remained steady at 16 percent each year after.

The report is available online at http://oas. samhsa.gov/TEDS2k7highlights/TOC.cfm Copies may be obtained free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or by visiting http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/ productDetails.aspx?ProductID=17972. For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.

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Juvenile Justice Reform

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a series of issue briefs as part of a framework for improving federal policy in areas where the Foundation has the deepest experience and the best evidence of successful strategies. One of the Issue briefs, Reform the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System, outlines three federal policy recommendations designed to strengthen and improve our juvenile justice system.

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Probation and Parole Growth

Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released by the Pew Center on the States.

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Adolescent Substance Use

A new national report issued during National Alcohol Awareness Month provides both discouraging and encouraging news about the state of efforts to inform young people about the risks of underage drinking and illicit substances. The report, based on a series of national surveys, finds that a smaller percentage of adolescents (age 12-17) were exposed to substance use prevention messages in 2007 (77.9 percent) than in 2002 (83.2 percent). Similarly, a smaller percentage of adolescents are participating in out of school substance use prevention programs (from 12.7 percent in 2002 to 11.3 percent in 2007), according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

However, the report shows a significant rise during this same period in the level of adolescents who engaged in substance abuse-related conversations with at least one parent (from 58.1 percent in 2002 to 59.6 percent in 2007). The report shows that these conversations are associated with lower rates of current substance use by an adolescent. Adolescents who had conversations with their parents about the dangers of substance abuse were significantly less likely to be current users of the following substances than those who did not have such conversations with their parents:

  • Alcohol (16.2 percent versus 18.3 percent)

  • Cigarettes (10.6 percent versus 12.5 percent)

  • Illicit Drugs (9.5 percent versus 11.7 percent)

 Exposure to prevention messages provided in school settings was associated with lower rates of current substance abuse. The level of exposure to these messages, however, did not differ significantly between 2002 (71.4 percent) and 2007 (70.2 percent). The report found mixed results regarding the association between media substance use prevention messages. As seen below, the prevalence of current cigarette and illicit drug use was lower among adolescents who received prevention messages through media sources than among those who had not. However, the opposite was true in terms of current alcohol use:

  • Cigarettes (10.8 percent vs. 13.4 percent)

  • Illicit Drugs (10.1 percent vs. 11.9 percent)

  • Alcohol (17.2 percent vs. 16.4 percent)

Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages and Substance Use among Adolescents: 2002 to 2007, is drawn from SAMHSA’s 2002 through 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which collected data from a sample of approximately 135,000 youths representative of the United States civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12 to 17. The full report is available on the Web at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/prevention/prevention.cfm. Copies may be obtained free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or go to http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/productDetails. aspx?ProductID=18032. For related publications and information, visit http://www. samhsa.gov/.

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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008

This report presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population. A joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. It also provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools, school environments, and responses to violence and crime at school. Data are drawn from several federally funded collections, including the National Crime Victimization Survey, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Survey on Crime and Safety, and School and Staffing Survey.

Highlights include the following:

  • In 2006, among students ages 12–18, there were about 1.7 million victims of nonfatal crimes at school, including 909,500 thefts and 767,000 violent crimes (simple assault and serious violent crime).

  • In 2007, 8 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon in the previous 12 months, and 22 percent reported that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property.

  • During the 2005–06 school year, 86 percent of public schools reported that at least one violent crime, theft, or other crime occurred at their school.

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Juvenile Arrest Data for 2007

OJJDP has published “Juvenile Arrests 2007.” The 12-page bulletin draws on data from the FBI’s “Crime in the United States 2007” to analyze trends in juvenile arrests. In 2007, U.S. law enforcement agencies made an estimated 2.18 million arrests of persons under age 18. There were 2 percent fewer juvenile arrests in 2007 than in 2006, and juvenile violent crime arrests declined 3 percent, reversing the modest upward trend over the previous two years. See “Juvenile Arrests 2007” (NCJ 225344) is available at http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=247324

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Effects of Harm

Even though spasms of intense violence erupt on campuses occasionally and linger in the social consciousness, violence at schools across America has been decreasing for a number of years. That doesn’t necessarily mean schools are safe havens. Consider:

  • Eighty-six percent of public schools in 2005-06 reported that one or more violent incidents, thefts of items valued at $10 or greater, or other crimes, had occurred—a rate 46 crimes per 1,000 enrolled students.

  • Almost a third of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied inside school.

  • Nearly a quarter of teenagers reported the presence of gangs at their schools.

For the 2009 report of Indicators of School Crime and Safety, much of the data came from the 2006-07 school year, when an estimated 55.5 million students were enrolled from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Other data include:

  • Nationwide, there were 27 homicides of victims ages five to 18 at school, or at a school-sponsored event in the 2006-07 school year. There were 34 in 1992-93.

  • About 4.3 percent of students in 2007 reported criminal victimization at school, including theft, violent crime, and serious violent crime, during the previous six months. In 1995, the figure was 9.5 percent.

  • In each year from 1992-93 to 2005-06, there were generally at least 50 times as many homicides of youths away from school as at school and generally at least 140 times as many suicides of youths away from school as at school.

  • In 2003-04, about 3.7 percent of public school teachers (or roughly 120,000) reported that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months.

  • Twenty-three percent of students ages 12-18 reported in 2007 that there were gangs at their schools.

  • Thirty-two percent of students in 2007 reported having been bullied at school during the school year.

  • Forty-five percent of students in grades 9-12 reported having had at least one drink of alcohol in the 30 days before the survey in 2007.

  • In 1995, the percentage of high school students who reported drinking alcohol was 52 percent.

  • Twenty percent of students in grades 9-12 reported having used marijuana in the previous 30 days in 2007.

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Substance Abusing Parents

Almost 12 percent of children under the age of 18 years of age live with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report is based on national data from 2002 to 2007.

“The research increasingly shows that children growing up in homes with alcohol and drug-abusing parents suffer—often greatly,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “The chronic emotional stress in such an environment can damage their social and emotional development and permanently impede healthy brain development, often resulting in mental and physical health problems across the lifespan. This underlines the importance of preventive interventions at the earliest possible age.”

Among the findings:

  • Almost 7.3 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol

  • About 2.1 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs

  • 5.4 million children lived with a father who met the criteria for past year substance dependence or abuse, and 3.4 million lived with a mother who met this criteria.

Findings for Children Living with Substance-Dependent or Substance-Abusing Parents: 2002 to 2007 are drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationwide survey of persons aged 12 and older. This report focused on questions asked of 87,656 parents aged 18 and older about their substance dependence and abuse.

The full report is available on the web at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/SAparents/ SAparents.cfm. Copies may be obtained free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or going to http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/productDetails. aspx?ProductID=17245

For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.

In addition, SAMHSA has a Children’s Program Kit for use by substance abuse treatment programs to provide educational support programs for the children of their clients in substance abuse treatment. It teaches children a variety of skills to fostering a sense of purpose and hope. The toolkit has activities for children from elementary school through high school. It also contains information for therapists to distribute to their clients to help parents understand the needs of their children, as well as training materials (including posters and DVDs) for substance abuse treatment staff who organize support groups for children.

This kit can be obtained at: http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/productDetails. aspx?ProductID=17245.

A special version of this kit designed to be of particular help to Native American-oriented treatment organizations is available at: http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/productDetails.aspx?ProductID=17286.

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Nation’s Report Card

Math and reading scores for nine and 13-year-olds have risen since the 2002 enactment of the No Child Left Behind act. Performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals that nine-year-olds posted the highest scores ever in reading and math in 2008. Black and Hispanic students of that age also reached record reading scores, though they continued to trail behind white students. The assessment, known as the “nation’s report card,” is given to a sampling of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds. About 26,000 students were tested in 2009 in each subject. In reading, average scores for all three age groups are on the rise: to 220 points for nine-year-olds on a 500-point scale, up from 216 in 2004; to 260 for 23-year-olds, up from 257; and to 286 for 17-year-olds, up from 283. Nine and 13-year-olds have made reading gains since 1971, but scores for 17-year-olds were virtually unchanged. The same trends held in a comparison of math scores from 1973 to 2008.

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Online Training

As a result of the clear recognition of the value and need for improved performance and as a consequence of the successful Professional Juvenile Justice Administrator (PJJA) certification educational program, the National Juvenile Court Services Association has created the Professional Juvenile Justice Manager (PJJM) training effort. PJJM, created through funding by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), is a series of state-of-the-art, computer-based, online training courses, all written by experts in the justice administration field. These training courses have been developed in consultation with executives in criminal and juvenile justice administration and reflect the needs of the field with regard to enhanced service delivery systems.

Each online course is designed to be completed within two weeks and includes basic lecture material, specialized readings, and self-assessment questions. All students will receive continuing-education-unit (CEU) training credits as approved by each state. The program also is designed to provide professional certification for supervisors in the field. The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) will be certifying courses. Full details about the PJJM program, course syllabi and authors, and the process for course registration can be found at www.njcsacertification. org. Or, contact Ken Gibson, NJCSA Program Manager, at 1-888-367-7552.

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Abused Children Web Sites

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: missingkids.com

  • Center’s Parenting Site: take25.org

  • Center’s Online Safety Site: netsmartz.org

  • National Sex Offender Registry: nsopw.org

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Child Safety Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Each year 9.2 million children visit emergency rooms and 12,175 die as a result of unintended injuries.

  • Boys die of such injuries at twice the rate of girls.

  • Drowning is the leading killer for those ages 1 to 4.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer for those ages 5 to 19.

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Napping Four-Year-Olds

Children between ages 4 and 5 who did not nap were more hyperactive and anxious than children who napped, report researchers at Pennsylvania State University. The study found that children who did not take daytime naps had higher levels of hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression than children the same age who napped. The researchers suggest napping may have a significant influence on young children’s daytime functioning and should be encouraged.

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Boys’ Learning issues

Both boys and girls have learning issues, but those affecting boys in school are more serious and have been neglected, researchers at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks report. The study reviewed gender differences in literacy levels, college entrance tests, school grades, engagement in school, and dropout rates, as well as mental health, depression, and conduct disorders. The study found that compared with girls, U.S. boys have lower rates of literacy, lower grades and engagement in school, and higher dropout rates. The boys also had dramatically higher rates of suicide, premature death, injuries, and arrests, and were also placed more often in special education. Girls are more likely to have different problems, including depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders.

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Statistical Briefing Book

OJJDP’s Statistical Briefing Book (SBB), an online tool featuring current statistics about juvenile crime and victimization, provides a wealth of information for practitioners, policymakers, the media, and the public. The site recently underwent several changes, including a redesigned look and a more informative home page.

SBB includes a Frequently Asked Questions section, data analysis tools, and access to related publications. SBB is a primary source of information about the juvenile justice field in the United States and throughout the world. During fiscal year 2008, there were nearly 700,000 visits to SBB and more than 2.1 million page views on the site. The site is especially reliable because statistical data are continually updated, ensuring that users receive timely information.

SBB has recently been enhanced for easier, faster access to information. Direct links to several popular data analysis tools have been added. A new Did You Know? section offers new facts and information every time users visit the home page. The What’s New section is now featured at the top of the page to facilitate user access to the most up-to-date information. Finally, the site has a new design and color scheme that coordinate with other components of OJJDP’s Web resources.

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Highlights of the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey (Fact Sheet)

Annually since 1995, OJJDP’s National Youth Gang Center has conducted a systematic survey of law enforcement agencies across the United States regarding the presence and characteristics of local gang problems. This Fact Sheet summarizes the findings from the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey. Among other findings, the Fact Sheet reports that more than one-third of the jurisdictions in the survey population experienced gang problems—the highest annual estimate since before 2000. Highlights of the 2007 National Youth Gang Survey may be ordered from the NCJRS Web site.

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Juvenile Arrests 2007 (Bulletin)

This Bulletin summarizes the juvenile data cited in the FBI report Crime in the United States 2007. In 2007, law enforcement agencies in the United States made an estimated 2.18 million arrests of individuals younger than age 18. Overall, there were 2 percent fewer juvenile arrests in 2007 than in 2006, and juvenile violent crime arrests declined 3 percent, reversing a recent upward trend. The latest data show increases in some offense categories but declines in most, with most changes being less than 10 percent in either direction. Juvenile Arrests 2007 can be ordered from the NCJRS Web site. OJJDP will soon release four new Fact Sheets based on the report Juvenile Court Statistics 2005.

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Domestic Violence

The Bureau of Justice Statistics in a study dealing with Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. reports:

  • Between 1993-94, 43 percent of intimate violence incidents involving female victims also indicated there were children living in the household.

  • Females ages 20-34 were at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate violence.

  • Females who were separated reported higher rates of nonfatal intimate violence than females of other marital statuses.

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Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)

This Fact Sheet presents statistics on delinquency cases processed between 1985 and 2005 by U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction. The estimates are based on data from more than 2,100 courts with jurisdiction over 80 percent of the nation’s juvenile population (youth aged 10 through the upper age of original juvenile court jurisdiction in each state).

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Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)

This Fact Sheet presents estimates of the number of cases transferred from juvenile court to criminal court through the judicial waiver mechanism between 1985 and 2005. The number of delinquency cases judicially waived peaked in 1994 at 13,000 cases. This represented an 80 percent increase over the number of cases waived in 1985 (7,200). Since 1994, however, the number of cases judicially waived declined 47 percent (6,900 cases in 2005).

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Person Offense Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005 (Fact Sheet)

This Fact Sheet presents statistics on person offenses (assault, robbery, rape, and homicide) handled by juvenile courts between 1985 and 2005. In 2005, U.S. juvenile courts handled an estimated 429,500 delinquency cases in which the most serious charge was an offense against a person. The 2005 person offense caseload was 133 percent greater than in 1985. In 2005, person offenses accounted for 25 percent of the delinquency caseload, compared with 16 percent in 1985.

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Juvenile Delinquency Probation Caseload, 2005 (Fact Sheet)

This Fact Sheet presents statistics on delinquency cases resulting in probation between 1985 and 2005. In 2005, courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled 1.7 million delinquency cases. Probation supervision was the most severe disposition in 33 percent of all delinquency cases. Between 1985 and 2005, the overall delinquency caseload increased 46 percent. The national estimates were generated using information contributed to the National Juvenile Court Data Archive. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released four fact sheets providing data derived from the report “Juvenile Court Statistics 2005.”

In 2005, U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled 1.7 million delinquency cases. One third of these cases received probation as the most serious disposition, and 25 percent of these cases involved personal offenses. For every 1,000 petitioned juvenile cases, 8 were waived to criminal court.

  • “Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005” is available online at http://www. ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/PubAbstract. asp?pubi=246504.

  • “Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2005” is available online at http:// www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/Pub Abstract.asp?pubi=246505.

  • “Juvenile Delinquency Probation Caseload, 2005” is available online at http:// www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/Pub Abstract.asp?pubi=246502.

  • “Person Offense Cases in Juvenile Court, 2005” is available online at http://www. ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/PubAbstract. asp?pubi=246503.

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Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2005

(NCJ 224539) June 2009 Fact Sheet presents statistics on petitioned delinquency cases waived to criminal court between 1985 and 2005. The number of delinquency cases judicially waived peaked in 1994 at 13,000 cases, which represented an 80 percent increase over the number of cases waived in 1985 (7,200). Since 1994, the number of cases judicially waived declined 47 percent (6,900 cases in 2005). This Fact Sheet is based on the report Juvenile Court Statistics 2005. http://www. ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/224539.pdf

The National Juvenile Defender Center has released the publication “Role of Juvenile Defense Counsel in Delinquency Court.” The report describes the unique and crucial role played by defense attorneys in juvenile court proceedings in providing comprehensive legal representation to children charged with offenses. See http://www.njdc.info/pdf/ role_of_juvenile_defense_counsel.pdf.

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School Grants

More than $32.8 million in grants have been awarded to 18 states and the District of Columbia as part of a joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice to support schools in creating safer and healthier learning environments. The highly competitive Safe Schools/ Healthy Students Initiative attracted 422 grant applications nationally. Under the initiative, school districts, in partnership with local public mental health agencies, law enforcement and juvenile justice entities, must implement a comprehensive, community-wide plan that focuses on the following elements:

  • safe school environments and violence prevention activities

  • alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention activities

  • student behavioral, social and emotional supports

  • mental-health services

  • early childhood social and emotional learning programs.

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative draws on the best practices of education, juvenile justice, law enforcement and mental-health systems to provide integrated resources for prevention and early intervention services for children and youth. Since 1999, the Education, Justice and Health and Human Services Departments have administered the Safe Schools/ Healthy Students Initiative, which has provided more than $2.1 billion to local educational, mental health, law enforcement and juvenile justice partnerships. For a list of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative grantees, see the complete press release at http://www. ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/07/07102009. html. For further information about the Initiative, visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/ dvpsafeschools/index.html.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) has published “Bullying in Schools.” Part of COPS’ Problem-Specific Guide Series, the guide provides police with information about the causes and extent of bullying in schools and includes recommendations for developing practices and policies that promote student safety. “Bullying in Schools” is available at www.cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/Resource Detail.aspx?RID=18.

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Teen Fatal Crashes

The number of U.S. teenagers involved in fatal drunken-driving accidents has declined as a result of laws that raised the legal drinking age to 21, according to the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. Researchers found that two primary drinking-age laws passed in all 50 states in the 1980s were responsible for an 11 percent decrease in the number of drunken teenage drivers involved in fatal crashes. The two laws made it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to buy or possess alcohol.

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Disability Software

The Simon Technology Center Library offers an inexpensive way to preview software and assistive technology (AT) devices for children and young adults with disabilities. Containing more than 2,500 items, the library has some of the newest software and devices on the market. Anyone can visit and view the materials. See Tara Bakken at (952) 838-9000 or visit PACER.org/stc/library.

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Community Colleges

Though many community college students say their coursework is challenging, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement reports on findings from a survey of more than 343,000 students on 585 community college campuses in 48 states. Of this year’s respondents, 59 percent of the students said their primary goal is to earn an associate degree, and 52 percent planned to transfer to a four-year college. Nationally, about 36 percent of community college students earn a certificate or a degree within six years.

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College Access

Other countries are outpacing the U.S. in providing access to college, eroding an educational advantage the nation has enjoyed for decades, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The study gives a failing grade for college affordability to every state but California, which received a C because of the relatively low cost of its community colleges. Researchers report the percentage of an average family’s annual income needed to pay for four-year college has risen from 20 percent to nearly 25 percent. Since the early 1980s, college tuition and fees have jumped nearly 440 percent, far more than health care, food, housing, and transportation costs. At nearly 40 percent, the U.S. is second only to Canada in the percentage of adults ages 35 to 64 with an associate’s degree or higher. But the U.S. is 10th in the world in the percentage of adults ages 25 to 34 who have such degrees.

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Teen Dating Abuse

  • One in three teens said they were text messaged 10, 20, or 30 times an hour about what they are doing and who they are with

  • One in four teens in a relationship reported being called names, harassed, or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting

  • Fifty-one percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is why they send sexy messages or images (compared to 18 percent of boys) See http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/survey results_2007mstr.htm

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‘Sunny’ Young Adults

An MTV poll of 1,100 young people reported that 79 percent of 18-to-24 year-olds were generally happy with life, compared with 66 percent in 2007, even though more of them think they will have a harder time finding work, buying a house, and raising a family than their parents did. Many of the respondents indicated they were not happy with the amount of money they had and that it will be harder to find a job than it was for their parents. Of respondents ages 13 to 17, 75 percent said they were happy, up from 65 percent two years ago and 72 percent of those polled from ages 18 to 24 said they were happy, up from 66 percent in 2007. Seventy-four percent of college students said they were happy, up from 64 percent in 2008 despite an increase in the number of students who reported being stressed out by finances and job prospects after graduation.

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Teen Childbearing

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen childbearing nationwide cost taxpayers $9.1 billion in 2004. Teens 17 and under account for $8.6 billion of that total, or an average of $4,080 per teen mother annually

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Abduction Risks

According to the Uniform Child Abduction and Prevention Act, the following are risk factors for potential abduction:

  • Previously abducted or has threatened to abduct a child

  • Engaged in activities that indicate a planned abduction, such as quit job, closed bank account, applied for visa or obtained travel documents for self and/ or child

  • Lacks strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to a state or the U.S.

  • Has strong ties to another state or country

  • History of domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse/neglect

  • Has refused to follow a custody determination

  • Is likely to take a child to a country that does not provide for extradition to the U.S.

  • Has had an adverse decision with regard to immigration status in the U.S.

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Family Violence

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has recently published Family Violence Legislative Update that summarizes state legislation, identifies trends, and provides contacts for state domestic violence coalitions and legislative offices. It highlights family violence laws enacted during 2008, including

  • Expanding domestic violence protections to dating relationships

  • Protecting victims of stalking by expanding definitions, enhancing criminal penalties, and ensuring full faith and credit is accorded to stalking orders

  • Electronic monitoring of domestic violence perpetrators

  • Employment protections for abuse victims who must leave work to obtain legal services or attend court proceedings. See www.ncjfcj.org.

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Concussions

The International Conference on Concussion in Sports says children and teens require different treatment for concussions than adults. The guidelines say children and teens must be strictly monitored and activities restricted—no return to the playing field, no return to school, and no cognitive activity—until fully healed.

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Unvaccinated Children

A U.S. study has found that children who are not vaccinated against whooping cough have 23 times as high a chance of getting the illness. Researchers tracked children in Colorado between 1996 and 2007. They compared two groups: 156 who had confirmed pertussis, or whooping cough, and 595 who did not have it.

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Baseball Injuries

The number of children and adolescents treated for baseball-related injuries in hospitals decreased 25 percent from 1994 to 2006, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy. The number of youth baseball injured dropped from an estimated 147,000 injuries in 1994 to about 111,000 in 2006. The study found 46 percent of the injuries were caused by being hit by a baseball and 25 percent were injured from being hit by a bat.

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Foreign Students

The number of foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges surged seven percent last year to 623,805, an all-time high and the largest one-year increase on record. Enrollments of foreign undergraduate and graduate students just starting to pursue their degrees are rising even faster—10.1 percent last year, according to the Institute of International Education for the U.S. State Department. The total number for the 2007-08 academic year is six percent above the previous high, set in 2002-03. Of 432 schools that said international enrollments were up this past fall, 19 percent said the weak dollar made tuition costs more attractive. In addition to the cultural and educational assets such students bring to U.S. campuses, they contribute about $15.5 billion to the economy.

A record 241,791 U.S. students went abroad for academic credit in 2006-07, up eight percent from the previous year and nearly 150 percent more than a decade earlier, according to the Institute of International Education. Europe continues to host the largest share of students, 57 percent, but that is down from the previous year. Some of the fastest growth is in Asia and Africa, where the number of students increased by 20 percent and 19 percent respectively. The top three fields of study are the social sciences (21.4 percent), business and management (19.1 percent), and humanities (13.2 percent). More than 55 percent of students study abroad for periods of eight weeks or less, up from 53 percent last year. The number of students spending an academic year abroad has dropped from 5.5 percent to 4.4 percent.

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“Safety IQ”

Ninety percent of parents say they feel responsible for supplying their children with safety information, according to the Underwriters Laboratory. A survey also found 90 percent of children in grades kindergarten through fifth relies on their parents for information to keep them safe. U.S. children suffer an estimated 14 million potentially disabling unintentional injuries annually, according to the study. When asked what their reactions would be in the event of a fire, 47 percent of children reported they knew to get out of the building immediately, but nearly half would put themselves in danger by trying to call 911 (26 percent) first or trying to find a parent or teacher (22 percent).

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