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Although teens aged 13 to 17 make up only 7% of the American population, they make up 31% of the shoplifting population. A third of American teens say they can get free condoms on a regular basis. Here is the revealing breakdown of percentages describing where they are able to do this:

  • Clinic—40%

  • Friend—16%

  • School—14%

  • Store giveaway—6%

  • Doctor—6%

  • Parent/relative—4%

  • Concerts—2%

The following is a picture of how American children view ho- mosexuality:

  • 82% say that homosexuals can and should be hired for any occupation.

  • 80% think that same-sex partners should receive the same employment benefits as married people.

  • 73% say that homosexuals should be permitted to enter the military.

  • 64% think that homosexuals should be permitted to adopt children.

  • 61% agree that homosexuals should be permitted to get married.

  • 69% know that intimate contact with a homosexual causes AIDS.

American teens quizzed with questions that mixed pop culture and constitutional issues provided the following answers:

  • Less than 2% of teens recognized James Madison as the father of the Constitution, while 58% know Bill Gates as the father of Microsoft.

  • Nearly 95% know Will Smith played the role of the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” but only 2% know William Rehnquist was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • More than 75% know that Beverly Hills’zip code is 90210, but only 25% know that the Constitution was written in Philadelphia.

  • 41% can name the three branches of government, while 59% can name the Three Stooges, who were popular on television half a century ago.

Facing the Challenge


  • 74% know that Bart Simpson lives in Springfield, but only 12% know that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was from Springfield, Illinois.

It costs society $39,000 per year to keep a youth in a correc- tional center. The average child witnesses 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television by the time he finishes elementary school. Every day…

    • 13 young people commit suicide

    • 16 are murdered

    • 1,000 become mothers

    • 2,200 drop out of school

    • 500 begin using drugs

    • 1,000 begin drinking alcohol

    • 3,500 are assaulted

    • 630 are robbed

    • 80 are raped

      • 1.1

        million teens become pregnant each year, representing 11%

of all 15- to 19-year-olds. Almost half of all teen pregnancies (449,000) end in abortion. One in every three teenagers has used an illicit drug within the past 30 days. (This statistic alone represents a mindboggling state of affairs.) Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college stu- dents. American girls, on average, begin having sexual intercourse at age 16, boys at 15. By the time of high school graduation, 70% of girls and 80% of boys have been sexually active (U.S. News and World Report, December 22, 1986, p. 8). 50% of today’s sexually active males had their first sexual expe- rience between the ages of 11 and 13 (Robert Coles and Geof- frey Stokes, Sex and the American Teenager, 1985). By age 13, boys who have never had any form of sex are in the minority. Similarly, girls are in the minority by age 15.

Subcultures All Their Own

Modern teenagers have developed their own entirely unique subcul- tures and their own set of standards. This includes body piercing,

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