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News & Views - Dec, 1999 Issue #64

(1996-97) The Dept. of Education reported 34,101 students identified with autism, up from 15,580 in the 1992-93 school year. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about 285,000 US children ages 3 to 21 have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder which includes autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett’s Disorder, all being neurological disorders becoming evident by age 3. 

(September, 1999) Campbell County schools in Gillette, Wyoming has added a boot-camp type program. Run by two county education employees with law-enforcement and military backgrounds, there are currently 11 students enrolled. The program requires parent permission. 

(November, 1999) In California in 1996, there were 21,200 young people arrested for curfew violations, an increase from 1989, when 5,400 young people were arrested for violating curfew. Reported by Margaret Davidson, Chair of the Journalism Department, Univ. of Wisc., Oshkosh. 

(November 1, 1999) According to a New York Times and CBS News recent poll of 1,038 teens, nearly all teens report they routinely tell their parents where they are going when they leave the house, and almost 90% have rules about when they have to be home. 

(November 1, 1999) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the incidents of teen-agers in fist-fights have decreased by 14% from 1991 to 1997, and those saying they carried a weapon has decreased by 30%. 

(November 9, 1999) According to an Associated Press story, “The portion of babies born to unwed parents has increased fivefold since the 1930s.” In the period 1930-34, 8% of all babies were born to unmarried parents, while during the years of 1990-94, 41% were born out-of-wedlock. 

(November 21, 1999) The above is the title of an editorial appearing in the Chicago Tribune by William Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He claims that while zero tolerance in schools was explained as a clarification on rule breaking, in his opinion, it has turned out to be a Frankenstein, “destroying children in its path.” He points out that, among other things, zero tolerance incorporates no standards of intent, assumptions of innocence or procedures of due process. He continues, “Schools everywhere – public, private, urban, suburban, rural, and parochial – are turning into fortresses where electronic searches, locked doors, armed police, surveillance cameras, patrolled cafeterias, and weighty rule books define the landscape. Ironically, elaborate security hardware fails to create school safety. Recent research indicates that as schools become more militarized they become less safe, in large part because the first casualty is the central, critical relationship between teacher and student, a relationship that is now being damaged or broken in favor of tough-sounding, impersonal, uniform procedures.” He concludes, “Zero means none or nothing. Tolerance gestures toward understanding, generosity, kindness, benevolence, justice, forgiveness.” He implies that Zero Tolerance means no understanding, generosity, kindness, benevolence, justice or forgiveness. 

(November 22, 1999) In a self-reporting survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and reported by CNN, it was found that the increase in teens’ drug use that started in 1991 seems to be leveling off or declining a little. Cocaine and Crack use was 8% in 1998, and 7% in 1999. The trial use of inhalants was 19% in 1999, 22% in 1998 and 23% in 1997. Use of the drug ‘Ecstasy’ remained steady at 7%. Heroin experimentation was 3% in 1999 and 4% in 1998 and 1997. 

(November 24, 1999) A CNN.com story, reported the results of a survey conducted annually by General Social Survey, University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. “The percentage of American Households made up of married couples with children dropped from 45 percent in the early 1970s to just 26 percent in 1998.” The survey also found that 56% of adults were married, compared with 75% in 1972, 51% of children lived in a household with their two parents, as compared to 73% in 1972, the percentage of households made up of unmarried people with no children was 33%, double the 1972 rate, and there were 18.2% of children living with single parents as compared to 4.7% in 1972. 

(November 29, 1999) The National Crime Victimization Surveys for 1995 and 1996 concluded that only 28 percent of violent crimes against children are reported to the police, while 48 percent of violent crimes against adults are reported to the police. Each year, 100,000 people age 12 and above are interviewed about their experience with crime. Even when including reports to other authorities, like school officials, instead of police, violence against children is reported 44 percent of the time compared with 55 percent for adults. 

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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