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Column One: Students

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Voting participation by young people in the 1992 Presidential election was substantially higher than it was four years earlier, and was at its highest rate in 20 years, the Census Bureau reports.

Based on a survey conducted in November, the bureau found that 42.8 percent of those ages 18 to 24 voted in 1992, compared with 36.2 percent in 1988. In the 1972 election, the first after the voting age was lowered to 18, 49.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted.

The bureau's Current Population Survey also found that voter registration among 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 48 percent to 53 percent between 1988 and 1992, and that the proportion of registrants in that age range who voted also rose, from 75 percent to 82 percent.

Nevertheless, the bureau found that young people continue to vote in lower numbers than do others. And, it found, 18- and 19-year-olds are the least likely of any age to vote. Thirty-seven percent of 18-year-olds and 39 percent of 19-year-olds said they had voted in 1992.

Responding to the Census Bureau's report, People for the American Way announced that it will expand a national voter-education program for high school students.

"The sharp jump in voter turnout among young Americans proves that youth-related voter-outreach programs can make a difference,'' said Sanford D. Horwitt, the director of the program, known as First Vote.

He said the group plans to expand the program to 40 urban school districts in the 1993-94 school year. In 1992, the program was in place in 17 urban districts and three states--Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia--and was credited with helping 100,000 students register to vote.


Continuing an effort to help curb alcohol-related accidents on prom nights, the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and the Century Council, a nonprofit organization that campaigns against alcohol abuse, has prepared classroom materials that are being sent to more than 8,000 high schools.

The materials include a videotape of an episode of the television show "Full House'' in which the character D.J. Tanner participates in an alcohol-free prom. A lesson plan for teachers and a student-activity package accompany the video.

In addition to the high school materials, the groups are developing lesson plans that are being distributed to 4,000 middle schools, as well as posters and buttons that read "Be Cool. Have a sober prom and graduation,'' and a public-service announcement with the same message.--R.R.

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