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Renaissance Village

4/28/ 2 10:33: QKW_RITE: GatherM3Ms: Data ID 3157

Needs Statement for Renaissance Village ("Excerpts")

(this report was created 12/ 5/13 19:20)

Teenagers are 3.5 times for more likely to commit serious crimes than the average American. The highest crime rate of all is for youngsters 16 and 17 years old, four times the rate for all Americans.

There was a 57 percent increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles aged 10 through 17, and a 43 percent increase in unmarried girls aged 15 through 19 having babies. Florida is ranked 48th overall in the 1995 Kids Count Book, which compares state statistics on youth issues. (BNA, page 8.36)

5243 youths were referred to the Palm Beach County Department of Juvenile Justice for a total of 8594 cases.

Turning around the lives of young criminals has been largely unsuccessful. About two-thirds of juvenile offenders are arrested again within 18 months of their release, and many become adult criminals.

"The juvenile violent crime arrest rate in 1988 was nearly identical to the rate in 1980; in fact, this rate had changed little since the early 1970's. However, between 1987 and 1994, the rate increased 71%.

In December, 1993, 63 youth gangs were charted by Broward County law enforcement agencies throughout the County. Some type of gang activity was found in almost every community within Broward County.

From an interview of 50 randomly selected Broward County youth who were active gang members during late 1992 and 1993, the respondents, representing a cross-section of 23 different gangs, reported that: 66% of respondents had been arrested 1-10 times (average 8); of these, almost two-thirds had been arrested for at least one violent felony crime; 76% sold drugs (of these, 38% reported they sold drugs on a daily basis); 47% admitted they personally owned at least one gun (of these, almost 91% of the weapons were more lethal than small-caliber handguns); and two-thirds admitted that most of their fellow gang members owned guns.

Police estimates show an enormous increase in street gang activity in Broward County since organized gangs were first detected in 1987, when there were an estimated 5 gangs. In 1995, that estimate had increased to 60 gangs in Broward County.

"Six percent (of murders in the U.S. in 1995) were juvenile gang killings, which were up 38% over the past 5 years." (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports)

The increase in the proportion of students using any illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the survey continued a steady increase which began in 1991 among eighth-graders and in 1992 among 10th- and 12th-graders. For eighth-graders, the proportion using any illicit drug in the prior 12 months has more than doubled since 1991 (from 11 percent to 24 percent), and since 1992 it has nearly doubled among 10th-graders (from 20 percent to 38 percent) and risen by about half among 12th-graders (from 27 percent to 40 percent).

Nearly one in 20 (4.9 percent) of today's high school seniors is a current daily marijuana user, and one in every 30 10th-graders (3.5 percent). While "only" 1.5 percent of eighth-graders use at that level, that still represents a near doubling of the rate in 1996 alone.

Schools don't carefully choose their programs (for fighting drug abuse). For instance, the report found better results at schools where students took part in programs other than 'D.A.R.E.", which operates in about 70 percent of school districts. D.A.R.E., which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, relies on police officers and other law-enforcement officials who visit fifth-grade classrooms for 17 hours each year. The program receives federal money through school districts. (by Robert Greene, Associated Press, published in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, February 25, 1997)

29% of kids entering 9th grade drop out of school without receiving a high school or a general equivalency diploma. In 1996, 11,117 children over the age of 16 were not attending school, had not graduated, and were not considered exempt.

A new book by William Julius Wilson called When Work Disappears offers further insight into the dilemna of the changing work world. "'For the first time in the 20th century,' Mr. Wilson writes, 'most adults in many inner-city ghetto neighborhoods are not working in a typical week.' Difficult as life was for many urban blacks in the 1940's and 50's, they at least enjoyed reasonable hopes of landing steady, if low-paying, work. Now, mainly because of global economic reorganization and the disappearance of unskilled factory jobs, he asserts, those hopes have nearly vanished. The collapse of the low-wage economy has, in turn, destroyed neighborhood businesses and encouraged the departure of upwardly mobile young adults. In a little more than a generation, formerly viable if relatively lowly black communities have become chaotic, crime-infested, welfare-dependent slums... Without the spiritual and financial anchor of respectable employment, there is little chance that the acute social disorganization of the black inner cities will improve.... The technological advances and global economic shifts of the past 30 years have had devastating effects at the bottom of American society." (reviewed by Sean Wilentz in the New York Times Book Review, p.7).

"The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 1993, 50.2% of the births in New York City were to single mothers (43% among white women and 71% among blacks) -- an illegitimacy rate that is actually smaller than that in other major cities. The rate was 72% in Detroit, 70% in St. Louis, 68% in Newark and Washington, 67% in New Haven and Cleveland, and 65% in Baltimore and New Orleans. Nationally, 31%, or nearly 1 in 3, of all births are to unwed mothers." (by Sam Roberts, New York Times, October 1, 1995)

"A new survey by the Florida Family Council draws a direct link between juvenile crime and missing fathers... Nearly three out of four juvenile offenders come from homes where their mothers and father were not married.

"'Most of our kids come from single family homes where the parent is usually working and there's lack of supervision.' said Johnny Brown, Broward County district administrator of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 'Without the supervision, the youngsters end up violating the law and wind up in our system." (Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, March 3, 1997).

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates for youths 15-19 quadrupled in this country between the years of 1950 (2.7 per 100,000) and 1988 (11.3 per 100,000).

As part of the 1990 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of U.S. high school students in grades 9-12, students in the study were asked whether they had seriously thought about suicide in the previous 12 months. 27.3% of U.S. high school students reported they had thought seriously about suicide, 16.3% had made specific plans, 8.3% had made one or more suicide attempts, and 2.1% had required medical attention because of their suicide attempt(s).

Child sexual abuse case medical examinations increased dramatically from 1980 (175 cases) through 1992 (1381 cases), nearly a sevenfold increase. Reports of adult cases of sexual assault have decreased over this period of time with 337 cases reported in 1980 vs. 242 cases in 1992, a 28% decrease.

The fastest growing age group in Florida in the past 15 years was kids below fifteen years of age. Now those kids are becoming teenagers and young adults. The fastest growing segment of the Florida population between now and the year 2010 will be kids 15-19. There were 1.2 million teenagers in 1995 in Florida and there will be nearly 1.7 million by the year 2010, an increase of 36%. The total population of Florida is expected to increase by 26% during this time (from 14.1 to 17.8 million). (Florida Demographic Estimating Conference database).

Of major concern in Florida and Broward County, specifically, is the fact that the number of boys ages 15 to 19 -- those most likely to break the law -- will increase by 30 percent in Florida over the next decade. Adding to the problem is the fact that kids are committing violent crimes at an earlier age than ever before.

If present trends continue, out of a 40 member class graduating high school in the year 2000: 2 class members will give birth before graduation; 8 will drop out of school; 11 will be unemployed after graduation; 15 will be living in poverty; 36 will have used alcohol; 17 will have tried marijuana; 8 will have used cocaine; 6 will have run away from home; and 1 will have committed suicide. (MHA of PBC newsletter)

The cost to society for allowing these conditions to continue is greater than the cost of being at war.

The Vietnam War cost the nation the lives of 58,000 young people, and the national debt increased by $146 trillion dollars in the seven years 1967-1973. Adjusted for inflation, the increase in national debt during the Vietnam War was $500 trillion (1992 dollars).

In the seven years 1989-1995 (a time of peace), the national debt increased by $2360 trillion, four times the amount of the increase during the seven years of the Vietnam War. Clearly, our present approach is failing, and not intervening in these trends will, in the long run, be even more costly. (this report was created 12/ 5/13 19:20)

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