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Many environments where young people live fail to provide adequate support and opportunities to prepare them to be healthy, productive adults, a National Research Council study concludes.

The report, Losing Generations: Adolescents in High-Risk Settings, says that many of the settings that adolescents traditionally rely on--including families, neighborhoods, and schools--are "under severe stress'' and often contribute to a host of adolescent problems, including delinquency, drug use, and violent crime.

Previous studies of at-risk youths have focused on individual characteristics and behavior and have not adequately examined environmental and institutional effects, the report says.

The deteriorating economy, coupled with the resulting lack of economic opportunity, is the primary reason for the family-support system's collapse, according to the report.

But the study also concludes that several school practices, including ability grouping, have a negative effect on the education of low-achieving adolescents. The authors encourage the use of more flexible approaches in grouping students.

The 276-page report, released last month, also includes chapters on job training and community interventions.

Copies of the report are available for $29.95 each by calling the National Academy Press at (800) 624-6242.

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