Kids Grade Adults

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Call it divine retribution for kids, or at least 1,028 of them. Chicago's Uhlich Children's Home got 12- to 19-year-olds together to grade the graders, rating adults on several aspects of social issues.

Once again, adults are proving Harry Truman correct in the eyes of teens: C students are running the world. The overall grade of adults was C-plus for the second year in a row, after a grade of C on Uhlich's first report card, in 1999.

Adults are yet to receive an A or even a B-plus in any topic. The Uhlich Report Card, released on June 5, is compiled by the namesake agency (a nonprofit that focuses on abused and neglected youth) and the marketing research firm Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU). The survey asks participants to rate adults on 19 topics, including protecting the environment, fighting AIDS, being honest and stopping youths from drinking.

Uhlich spokesman Mark Karlin said adults improved this year in "Reducing Gun Violence" (from C to C-plus) and "Making Neighborhoods Safe (C-plus to B-minus). For the second year in a row they received a C-minus for "Really Listening and Understanding Young People." Karlin said the report shows adults continuing to excel in creating job opportunities while failing at preventing teen drinking.

The improved grade in preventing gun violence is interesting considering some of the results found in another Uhlich report, a survey of teen attitudes toward gun violence and school security. The survey (of the same youths who completed the Report Card) found that almost 43 percent knew someone who has been shot. About 72 percent favored tougher handgun controls, while just over half thought violent teens learned their behavior from parents.

Uhlich and TRU brought in four groups of teenagers (two from cities, two from suburbs) to discuss how adults might improve on these grades. "I think kids feel adults are taking greater measures [to prevent gun violence], and they want to give them props for that," said Uhlich Communications Director Dan Kotowski. "But most kids still feel threatened by the number of guns in communities. They don't think metal detectors or drills are effective. That's why the grade about listening to kids [is important]. The crux of the problem is that adults don't listen to what they say, and if they did, they would know how the violence is caused." Contact: (773) 588-0180, ext. 1470 or