January 28, 2004

(Sub)urban blight

Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster have concluded that problematic behaviors, like teenage pregancies and drug use, are just as rampant in suburbia as in the inner city:

Public high school students in suburbia are just as likely as students in urban schools to engage in sex, get pregnant, obtain an abortion, drink, use illegal drugs, steal and fight, according to a report released today by a New York think tank...The report also found that:

* About half of all public high school students, urban and suburban, have had sexual intercourse.

* 10.5 percent of female high school students in urban schools said they had become pregnant, compared to 9.1 percent of female students in suburban schools.

* Urban and suburban teen-age girls are almost equally as likely to obtain an abortion.

* About one out of seven urban and suburban students have used illegal drugs at school.

* More than one third of suburban high school students smoke regularly, defined as at least once a day in a 30-day period. Among urban students, one fourth smoke regularly.

* About one in five urban and suburban students said they stole something valued at less than $50 within the past 12 months.

The findings are based on surveys by the Department of Health and Human Services of 11,000 public high school students in 1995 and 1996.

Here's the report, by the way. Their summary paragraph:

Parental concern about the rising influence of sex, drugs, and delinquency in urban schools has long been recognized as a significant factor in the last few decades’ population flight from the cities to the suburbs. Parents are fleeing urban schools not just because of low academic performance but also because they believe suburban schools are safer and more wholesome. But the results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health suggest that fleeing from city to suburb doesn’t produce much difference in the level of these problems one finds at the local school. The desks may be newer, the paint may be fresher, and the faces may be whiter, but the students are just as likely to have sex, use controlled substances, and break the law. The comforting outward signs of order and decency—shiny new schools armed with expensive textbooks and staffed by teachers who have mastered the latest educational fads—don’t seem to be associated with substantial differences in student behavior.

I can already predict some of the comments to this post now - "Time to homeschool."

Posted by kswygert at January 28, 2004 08:59 PM