Special Interest Group The Perception and Rights of High School

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Special Interest Group The Perception and Rights of High School Students As far back as anyone can remember there have been judgements made against teenagers in high school. Although some of these judgements may be true a lot of them are false. Many people think that because they know or have heard of one teen dying from drug use, or a girl who left her newborn in a dumpster that that is what all teenagers are doing. My hope is to prove that today's teenagers are not all about drinking, smoking, having sex and dropping out of school.

Although there are some teens who drop out of school, the drop out rate among American teenagers has greatly decreased. A survey taken by the U.S. census shows that the drop out rate has decreased 3% since 1970. In the 70's an average of 12.2% of students dropped out of school and the latest survey taken in 1994 shows that only 9.2%

of students had dropped out. This statistic proves that the majority of teens are going to school and will graduate. I believe that this decrease is due to the fact that public schools are spending more money on keeping students in school. For example, programs such as night school and up to speed give students the option to take classes at night and make up for the times they messed up. Rather than dropping out students now have the chance to graduate and make something of their lives. I feel that with all the programs being offered we should strive to have a 0% drop out rate. In order to achieve this schools need to be given money to keep their special programs going and a law needs to be passed that will no longer allow students to drop out at the age of 16. Having this law allows teens to take the easy way out. If this law is removed more teens will be forced to graduate. If the law is removed a new law should be passed that states that there will be no dropping out if your school provides the proper programs to keep you in school. If you stop showing up to school you will be given a ticket and be expected to return to school. By giving public schools more funding and passing this new law the American teens will have no reason and there will be excuse as to why a child dropped out of school.

The second judgement that people tend to make about teens is that all teens drink, smoke and do drugs. This may be one of the more true judgements about teens. A study taken by the Teen Assessment Project shows that about 55% of American teens have used alcohol at one point in time, that 30% of teens use alcohol at least once a month and that 12% of teens use alcohol at least once a week. This statistic is rather scary. I feel that one way to stop this problem is imply harsher punishment to adults who supply minors with alcohol, as well as harsher punishment for minors who are caught with alcohol or who are got drinking (despite where the alcohol came from). 70% of teens say that is it easy to obtain alcohol. Another scarier statistic is the fact that 40% of all high school students have reported binge drinking. Binge drinking is when you drink to get drunk and you usually consume 5 or more alcoholic beverages in a row. It seems that alcohol is the most common and easiest "drug" for high school students to obtain. However, other drugs are still present in the high school scenario. Marijuana is also very popular in high school. 29% of students say that they have tried marijuana, while 13% say they use it at least once a month and 7% use it on a weekly basis. Although marijuana is illegal 43% of teens say that marijuana is easy to get. That statistic is very scary. In order to decrease the use of marijuana in high schools, the laws about the drug need to be strictly enforced and drug dealers need to be taken off the streets. Another way to try and decrease the number of users is to educate students on the hazards of the drug and the trouble that they can get into using marijuana. Another habit that is fairly common in high school is the smoking and chewing of tobacco. About 40% of high schoolers say they have tried tobacco, while 19% say that smoking or chewing is a habit. One reason this number is so great is because of the fact the tobacco is sold to 18 year olds, which is the common age of seniors in high school. Allowing an 18-year-old to purchase this makes it very easy for high school students to obtain tobacco. I feel that the greatest way to decrease the number of tobacco users is to make it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 21. If students can not purchase tobacco it may make it harder for them to obtain. One of the biggest solutions to all these problems would be to educate students on the hazards and consequences of their choices. If a school is unable to teach that because of their financial standing then money should be given to that school to properly educate tomorrows America on drugs, tobacco and alcohol abuse! Another judgement that is very unfair for a teenage girl is that everyone in high school is having sex this is hardly true. In fact only about 27% of teenagers claim to be sexually active. However, the thing that is unfair about this is that females are considered "sluts", "whores" and so on if people find out that a girl has been sexually active. This becomes even worse when we hear about teen mothers dumping their child in a garbage can or leaving it in an alley. The good news about teen pregnancy is that the numbers are slowly decreasing. Since 1991 the teen pregnancy percent has dropped 22%. One way to continue this decrease is to educate girls on the consequences of unprotected sex. One sad thing about teen pregnancy is that only about 1/3 of the mother's graduate from high school. I think that it is very important that all teens whether they are parents or not should be given the opportunity to graduate. To help teen mothers high schools should provide affordable daycare and flexible schedules that will allow teen mothers to graduate and give them an opportunity to make something of themselves.

Hopefully this has proven that not all teen are about getting wasted, having sex and not going to school. Most teens want to make something of themselves and be prosperous in life. Many of today's teens think twice about smoking and drinking and having sex, it is that small percentage of high school students who give a bad rep to all of a Americas teens. but if we work together we can overcome this reputation.