"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Troubling Statistics for Hispanic Teens

by Israel Ortega

With the recent rise in gasoline prices, we're all trying to cut corners to make our dollar last longer. For families with teens, this may mean less allowance money, coupled with lessons on better financial stewardship. While they're at it, they may want to emphasize the importance of making good life decisions.

In case we needed further reason, recent findings from the government reveal troubling statistics for our teens -- specifically, Hispanic teens.

The findings come from a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDCP talked to about 14,000 students in grades 9-12, in public and private schools in all 50 states (including North Carolina).

The survey found that Hispanic high-school students are at a higher risk than their African American and white teen counterparts to use drugs and attempt suicide. Research also indicates that African American and white teens report having engaged in less sexual activity in the last few years. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Hispanic teens.

In addition, Hispanic teens were more likely than African American and white teens to drink alcohol on school property, sell illegal drugs, ride with a driver under the influence, and use cocaine and ecstasy.

Clearly this is not a list where we want to see our teens leading.

And so the natural question is what to do? For some, the answer is for greater governmental involvement, perhaps in the form of creating yet another program or service. Or perhaps it means asking for more federal monies for a drug rehabilitation center or pregnancy counseling in our local cities and towns.

Such advice is no doubt well intended. But no amount of money can equal a parent sitting down with his or her daughter and talking to them about the dangers of drug use and risky sexual behavior. In every one of our teens is a future doctor, lawyer, CEO and elected official, and steering them towards a road of success is our obligation.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Media Services Associate at The Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in La Prensa and at the Heritage Foundation web site.

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