Report Roundup for October 2006

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Teen Career Plans Out of Sync with Reality
Florida State University (FSU)

The goals of many teens outpace what they are likely to achieve, resulting in misplaced time and resources, anxiety and distress, say FSU researchers. They tracked changes in high school seniors’ educational and occupational plans between 1976 and 2000, and found an expanding gap between goals and actual achievements.

Lead researcher John Reynolds concluded that today’s teens are “both highly ambitious and increasingly unrealistic.” Using data from several national surveys, researchers found that half of all high school seniors plan to go to graduate school, and 63 percent of all plan to obtain a professional job, such as doctor or lawyer, by age 30. But the gap between expectations of earning an advanced degree and actually earning it grew from 22 percentage points in 1976 to 41 percentage points in 2000.

The researchers attribute the unrealistic expectations to “the declining influence of grades and high school curricula and the increase of students who plan to use community college.” Conctact Reynolds for a copy of the report. (850) 644-4321,

Employment/Job Training

Employment and Unemployment Among Youth, Summer 2006
U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

From April to July, the number of employed 16- to 24-year-olds rose by 2.5 million, to a total of 21.9 million, reports the BLS. The increase was slightly less than last year’s increase of 2.7 million during the same period.

The number of unemployed youth increased by 658,000 between April and July, a significant increase from 2005, but comparable to youth unemployment for 2003 and 2004. About two-thirds of all U.S. youth were working or looking for work in July. That rate was essentially unchanged from 2005, but was more than 10 percentage points lower than 1989’s peak of 77 percent. Free, eight pages. (202) 691-6378,

Juvenile Justice

Impact Schools Initiative: A Critical Assessment and Recommendation for Future Implementation
New York University (NYU)

While New York City’s “Impact Schools Initiative” – which assigned police officers to 22 middle and high shools with high rates of student violence – appears to have reduced crime, it has also increased student tension and criminalized harmless disputes, and it was perceived as racially biased by many students, say researchers at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

According to city statistics, Impact schools have posted 59 percent declines in major crime, 43 percent declines in violent crime and 33 percent declines in overall crime. But NYU found that the schools were punishing simple disruptive behaviors, like screaming in the hallway or yelling at a teacher, more severely than were schools without a police presence. Free, 146 pages. (212) 998-7400,


America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2006
Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

This annual report is produced by a collection of 20 federal government agencies involved in research and activities related to children and families. The report consists of 26 indicators in five areas: population and family characteristics, economic security, health, behavior and social environment, and education.

This year’s positive findings include a record low adolescent birth rate, a drop in youths’ exposure to secondhand smoke, a drop in the proportion of high school seniors who smoke cigarettes every day, and a decline in the infant mortality rate. However, the report also found that the birth rate for unmarried women and the proportion of infants with low birthweight increased from the previous year. Available at

Substance Abuse

Alcohol Expenditure Study Concludes That Alcohol Industry Has Compelling Financial Interest in Underage Drinking
Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), University of Maryland

This analysis finds that alcohol use by youth provides substantial financial value to the alcohol industry. Of the estimated $128.6 billion spent on alcohol in 2001, $22.5 billion (nearly 18 percent) was attributable to underage drinking. The authors say underage drinking produces a long-term cash value to the alcohol industry, because nearly 97 percent of adults who abuse alcohol began drinking before age 21. Free. 1 page. (301) 405-9770,


Results from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): National Findings
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Illicit drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds continues to decline, SAMHSA reports. The rate for drug use in the past month (“current use”) by that age group dropped from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 11.2 percent in 2003, 10.6 percent in 2004 and 9.9 percent in 2005. Likewise, the rate of current marijuana use among 12- to 17-year-olds declined from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.8 percent in 2005. (See Evaluation Spotlight, page 26.)

Drinking among that age group also declined: 16.5 percent reported using alcohol in the past month and 9.9 percent reporting binge drinking in 2005, compared with 17.6 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively, in 2004. The declines in alcohol use follow years of stable rates. (240) 276-2130. Available at


Rights of the Child
Office of the U.N. High Comissioner for Human Rights

Based on the independent study of an expert appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General, the report provides a global picture of violence against children and proposes recommendations to prevent and respond to the problem. It documents the incidence of various types of violence against children within the family, schools, alternative care institutions and detention facilities, places where children work, and communities. Among the findings:

* Worldwide, almost 53,000 children died in 2002 as a result of homicide.
* Between 20 percent and 65 percent of school-aged children reported having been verbally or physically bullied in the past 30 days, most often in industrialized countries.
* An estimated 150 million girls and 73 million boys under age 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact in 2002.
* In 2004, an estimated 218 million children were involved in child labor, 126 million of whom were in hazardous work.

Free. 46 pages. 41 22 917 9000 (Geneva),


Income Climbs, Poverty Stabilizes, Uninsured Rate Increases
U.S. Census Bureau

Median household income in the United States rose by just over 1 percent from 2004 to 2005, to $46,326, while the nation’s official poverty rate remained statistically unchanged at 12.6 percent (37 million people), according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the proportion of people without health insurance rose from 15.6 percent to 15.9 percent, or 46.6 million people.

The 2005 poverty rate for children under age 18 (17.6 percent) was higher than that of 18- to 64-year-olds (11.1 percent) and people 65 and older (10.1 percent). For all three groups, the rates were statistically unchanged from 2004.

There were 7.7 million families in poverty in 2005; however, the poverty rate for families declined from 10.2 percent in 2004 to 9.9 percent in 2005. As defined by the Office of Management and Budget, the average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2005 was $19,971. Free, 86 pages. (301) 763-3030,


Understanding Recent Changes in Child Poverty
The Urban Institute

Over the past decade, notes this Urban Institue report, the U.S. child poverty rate took two sharp turns: a major decline from 1993 to 2000, and a slight uptick from 2000 to 2004. Both shifts affected black and Hispanic children the most, the authors say.

The brief discusses three factors that account for fluctuations in child poverty: changes in federal and state economies, changes in family characteristics (including parents’ educational levels) and changes in the work behavior of parents. According to the institute’s analysis, the drop in child poverty between 1993 and 2000 was predominately due to a stronger job market, especially for less-educated workers. The economic downturn that subsequently began in 2000 hit all families, even the well-educated. Free, 8 pages. (202) 833-7200,

Youth Workers

Growing the Next Generation of Youth Work Professionals: Workforce Opportunities and Challenges
Next Generation Youth Work Coalition/The Forum for Youth Investment

This survey of 1,100 frontline youth workers, funded by the nonprofit Cornerstones for Kids, provides new data on the work force and organizational characteristics and practices. The survey was administered in eight primarily urban communities. Among the workers surveyed:

• Seventy percent were female, half were under age 30, and 13 percent were 21 or younger.
• Nearly six in 10 were African-American, 27 percent were white and 7 percent were Hispanic/Latino.
• Sixty percent had a two-year college degree or higher.
• One in four worked in a school-based program.
• Most identified academics and educational enrichment as the most common activities in their programs.
• Four in 10 had been in their jobs for less than one year.

For a related report about the work force, see Research of Note, page 27. Free, 42 pages. (713) 627-2322,