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Published in Print: December 8, 1999, as Report Cites Threats to Children In New Millennium

Report Cites Threats to Children In New Millennium

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The plague of poverty, a lack of health care, and the specter of violent crime are some of the afflictions children face in the next millennium, concludes a report released last week.

Follow Up
"10 Critical Threats to America's Children" is available online at www.nsba.org/ highlights/ten_threats.htm.

The report, "10 Critical Threats to America's Children: Warning Signs for the Next Millennium," was sponsored by the National School Boards Association, the National League of Cities, Youth Crime Watch of America, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, and the National Association of Child Advocates.

"The problems confronting our children truly are challenges to all of America," Mary Ellen Maxwell, the president of the National School Boards Association, said in a statement. "Either we meet these challenges, or they will become obstacles to our future,'' said the Currituck County, N.C., board member.

Other critical threats to children cited in the report include abuse and neglect, inadequate child care, absentee parents, inadequate schools, at-risk behaviors such as drug use and unprotected sex, and teenage pregnancy. The warnings addressed in the report are backed by research findings and are accompanied by a number of suggested remedies.

"These are not new problems, but they are chronic and pervasive," the report says.

No 'Doom and Gloom'

The threats identified are a reasonable list of problems, said Kristin Moore, the president and a senior scholar with Child Trends, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that provides research and statistics on children and families. At the same time, Ms. Moore said she was struck by the fact that the report focuses solely on the problems facing children.

"We agree on what we don't want from children, but lack similar consensus on what we do want," she said. "It is important that in the next five to 10 years we develop positive goals for children.''

The report says it is not intended to be a "doom and gloom" prophecy, but instead to sound an alert and suggest a course of action for improving children's prospects.

"We recognize that there are programs out there,'' said Jack Levine, the president of the Center for Florida's Children, in Tallahassee, an affiliate of the Washington-based National Association of Child Advocates. But, he said, there is room for improvement.

Mr. Levine said the report was intended to accomplish three important outcomes: create awareness of the connection between children, families, violence, and education; recognize the cost of failing to invest in children; and stimulate a conversation about those issues around electoral politics.

The message to decisionmakers at every level, Mr. Levine said, is that neglecting children has its price.

Vol. 19, Issue 15, Page 3

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