State News Roundup
More than 162,700 incidents of crime and violence occurred last year in California's public schools, according to the state's first legislatively mandated tally of such statistics.
State education officials cautioned, however, that, because some school districts "deliberately underreported'' the crime that took place on their campuses, the actual number of occurrences may have been much higher.
The report, released this month, is the first to be completed under a 1984 state law that took effect in the 1985-86 school year. It requires school districts to report every six months to the department of education all crimes occurring on school grounds.
The law is one of several measures adopted by the legislature to help schools comply with the state's unique "safe schools'' constitutional amendment, passed in 1982. Under the amendment, school districts are responsible for ensuring that students have a "safe, secure, and peaceful'' campus environment.
More than 96 percent of the state's 1,026 districts complied with the reporting requirement, the report says.
Almost half of the reported incidents during the 1985-86 school year--74,700--were crimes against property. Districts reported losing more than $23.3 million as a result of such theft and vandalism.
Assaults on students, school personnel, or others accounted for 60,270 of the total. And the remaining 27,000 crimes, characterized by state school officials as "victimless,'' included drug use, drug sales, and possession of weapons.
The number of adolescent mothers in California is expected to grow by nearly 60 percent in the next five years, with the fastest rate of increase occurring among girls between the ages of 10 and 14, a new report concludes.
The trend is expected to further burden programs that help teen-age parents remain in school through graduation, notes the report by Policy Analysis for California Education, a research group based at the University of California at Berkeley.
Only 12 percent of the state's 157,000 mothers age 18 and younger were enrolled in such programs in 1985, the study found. Programs for teen-age mothers now cost between $5,000 and $8,000 per student, and the researchers estimate that the total annual cost statewide will reach $695 million to $1.1 billion in five years.
The study found that, although the state's birth rate for girls 15 and older has dropped dramatically since 1970, the rate for girls 10 to 14 has increased steadily during the same period. It projects that the total number of adolescent mothers will reach 252,000 by 1992.
The California Senate's office of research commissioned the PACE report as part of a study of pregnancy and the dropout problem.
Massachusetts must strengthen its support services for children and families to reverse an "alarming'' growth in the number of youths who become truants, dropouts, or runaways, a legislative commission has concluded.
"A higher proportion of kids come to school with social problems,'' said Representative Barbara A. Hildt, chairman of the legislature's commission on children in need of services, which issued its interim report at a public hearing late last month. "Until we address their needs, we are going to continue to see these problems.''
Ms. Hildt noted that the state's courts have reported a 25 percent increase in the number of "troubled'' children since 1984. These children are susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, and disease, she said.
The commission's recommendations include the establishment of school-based centers for health and counseling services and provision by the state of after-school programs, alternative-education programs, and mediation services for families.
"The primary goal has to be early intervention,'' Representative Hildt said. "If we work with the schools, we can help teachers and parents deal with problems early on. Once children have left home or school, they are adrift.''
The commission will issue its final report in the fall.