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Community involvement and leadership are critical elements of a school-based health-and-safety program, a new report by the Council of the Great City Schools concludes.

Although improving the health and safety of urban children is a long-term effort, educators must also work on short-term solutions to combat illness and violence in schools, the report says.

"Caring Schools, Caring Communities: An Urban Blueprint for Comprehensive School Health and Safety,'' released this month, reports findings from a symposium held in Washington last December by the council and the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. More than 50 representatives from the fields of education, law enforcement, government, and health met for two days to discuss such problems as childhood H.I.V. infection, adolescent pregnancy, and gun violence.

"This report synthesizes the presentations and discussion ... into a blueprint for urban action,'' Michael Casserly, the executive director of the council, said.

Copies of the report are available for $10 each from the Council of the Great City Schools, (202) 393-2427.

Teenage Time: While students in Taiwan and Japan outperform American teenagers academically, young people in all three countries spend the bulk of their time on the same activities--studying, interacting with peers, and watching television, a new study shows. But the relative importance of those activities may lead to differences in achievement, it adds.

Two University of Michigan researchers studied the daily activities and academic achievement of 578 11th-grade students from Minneapolis; Taipei, Taiwan; and Sendai, Japan. They found that students in Taiwan and Japan spend more time on academic-related activities, while U.S. students spend more time working and socializing with friends.

The researchers also found that, contrary to a popular impression, American teenagers actually watch less television, spending 12 hours a week in front of the screen, compared with 15.1 hours for Taiwanese students and 16.7 hours for Japanese young people.

East-Asian students are far more likely than U.S. students to combine studying with socializing, and they have more opportunities during the school day to socialize, the study says.

U.S. students reported spending about 80 percent more time with friends than on studying after school. That emphasis was the reverse in Taiwan, while Japanese students spend about equal amounts of time on each.

The biggest difference the study found was in the amount of time American students spend working and dating--activities the students acknowledged interfered with school work. Eighty percent of the American teenagers worked, compared with 26 percent in Taiwan and 27 percent in Japan. And 83 percent of the American students said they were dating, compared with 37 percent in Taiwan and 34 percent in Japan.

Victim Survey: Young black males are more vulnerable to handgun crime than any other group, the Justice Department has reported.

Among 16- to 19-year-olds, the most victimized age group, black males were four times more likely than their white counterparts to be victims of a non-fatal crime committed with a handgun, according to a report released last week by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Among people ages 16 to 19, an average of 3.97 percent of black males were victims of such crimes in 1987 through 1992, compared with 0.95 percent of white males, 1.34 percent of black females, and 0.36 percent of white females.

The report is the result of a federal household survey of crime victims. The survey shows that handguns were used in an estimated 917,500 non-fatal crimes during 1992, up almost 50 percent from the previous five-year average. The survey did not address handgun crimes in which the victim died.

Giving Up: Private giving to independent elementary and secondary schools increased 6.3 percent last year, figures released by the Council for Aid to Education indicate, making 1993 the second year in a row that giving to independent schools outpaced inflation.

According to the council, private giving to precollegiate education failed to keep pace with inflation in 1990 and 1991.

Giving to higher-education institutions increased 4.7 percent last year, the council reported. The growth in giving to postsecondary institutions represents only a 1.5 percent gain after adjusting for inflation, the council added.

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