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Indicators of School Crime and Safety fell 50% between 1992 and 2002

The excerpt below is from the November 30, 2004 issue of the Boston Globe summarizing the report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics

"Violent crime against students in schools fell by 50 percent between 1992 and 2002, with young people more often targeted away from school.

There were about 24 crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault for every 1,000 students in 2002, down from 48 per 1,000 a decade earlier, according to a report yesterday from the Education and Justice departments.

The reduction mirrored the trend found outside classrooms; overall crime is at a 30-year low across the nation.

The report found instances of school violence involving students have dropped steadily since a string of fatal shootings in the 1990s, notably the 1999 killings of 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado by two heavily armed students.

"There has been a drop, and we attribute a lot of that to the fact that schools are focusing on the issue more," said William Lassiter, school safety specialist at the Center for the Prevention of School Violence in Raleigh, N.C.

Schools have taken a number of steps, from installing metal detectors and hiring more security to implementing programs aimed at curbing bullying, which can lead to more serious crimes.

In 2002, there were about 659,000 violent crimes involving students at school and about 720,000 away from school property. For the most serious nonfatal violent crimes -- rape, assault, and robbery -- the crime rates were lower in school than away every year from 1992 to 2002.

The report also found that between 1992 and 2000, students between 5 and 19 were 70 times more likely to be murdered away from school than on campus. There were 234 homicides at school during that time span, compared with more than 24,000 away from school.

"There was initially great concern about school violence, but our report shows that kids are safer at school than they are away from school," said the report's coauthor, Katrina Baum of the Bureau of Justice Statistics."

Link: Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2004.

People in Red states smoke and die at greater rates than Blue states

The Center for Disease Control has a goal for smoking prevalence in the United States to be 12% of the population by 2010. Right now the median prevalence is 22.1 % and there is concern that the goal may not be reached.

In general more men smoke that women. Most smokers start smoking prior to age 18 and 80% say they would like to quit if they could.

The five highest smoking states are Kentucky where 30.8% of the population smokes followed by West Virginia with 27.4%, Missouri with 27.3 %, Louisiana with 26.6%, and Alaska with 26.3 %, all Red states.

The states with the lowest rates of smoking are Utah with 12%, California with 16.8%, Hawaii with 17.3%, Colorado with 18.5%, and Connecticut with 18.7%, 3 out of the five are Blue States.

New York where I live has a rate of 21.6%

Only six states have clean indoor air laws prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public places: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, all Blue states. Again, if the 2004 Presidential election was on values, it makes you seriously question what Red state voters really value since 440,000 Americans die every year from tobacco. The weapon of mass destruction killing americans is tobacco perpetrated by tobacco corporations and retailers on gullible Americans who don't have the sense to be aware of what and who are really killing them.

Only one state has met the goal set by the Center for Disease Control at 12% and that is Utah.

Link: State-Specific Prevalence of Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults --- United States, 2003.

What about socialization?

The first question that homeschooling parents get asked by skeptics of homeshooling is "What about socialization?"

My answer is "What about socialization?" because most people don't understand what socialization is. Socialization is about acculturation which is the incorporation of a naive person into the culture of an organization, ethnic group, country, etc. The newcomer must learn "the ropes" that is, the values, beliefs, and practices of the group that he/she is to become a member of. This kind of acculturation is a vertical process with the elders of the group mentoring the newcomers. What do neophytes have to teach other neophytes?

Studies of socialization abound but it clearly is most efficient when the older generation socializes the younger generation not when peers of the same age and experience are socializing their peers. Vocabulary development and verbal skills are increased much more effectively and efficiently when parents talk to their children in adult language than when kids talk with their same age peers.

So, it turns out that homeschooled kids often act more "mature", have better social skills, and better social judgment than their peers. A study reported by the Frazier Institute found the following about homeschooled kids.

"Research also suggests that home schooled students are more sociable than their school peers, as well as more independent of peer values as they grow older. "Popular belief holds that home schooled children are socially backward and deprived, but research shows the opposite: that home schooled children are actually better socialized than their peers," says Claudia Hepburn, director of education policy at The Fraser Institute. "Some studies have shown that home schooled children are happier, better adjusted, more thoughtful, mature and sociable than children who attend institutional schools."

Further, socialization that goes on in public schools can be negative with the peer pressure that comes from trying to fit into cliques by engaging in unhealthy behavior whether it is having to wear certain clothes, talk in certain slang, engage in risky behaviors such as shop lifting, sex, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. The adult child ratio is so high that kids often find themselves lost between the cracks in large bureaucratic schools. Often there is a clash between the values at school and the values that parents are trying to instill at home. Parents find themselves fighting an uphill battle for the minds and souls of their children.

So what about socialization? The question might better be asked with more specificity such as who is socializing whom with what values, beliefs, and practices to engage in what kind of behaviors to play what kind of role in what social system?

Link: Homeschool Research

Homeschoolers outperform public school students

Homeschooling It is estimated that there are 2 million kids homeschooled in the United States during the 2002-2003 school year. Homeschooling has been growing at a rate of about 7% over the last 4 years according the U.S. Department of Education.

According to homeschool researcher, Dr. Brian Ray, homeschoolers save American taxpayers about 10 billion dollars per year.

As a group, in study after study, homeschoolers outperform public school students in academic performance.

This report begins a series I will be doing on education. Learning is an important part of human growth and development and contributes to good mental health.

For many years I have been concerned that public schooling is, in many ways, detrimental to children and adolescent's mental health. I even remember reading a paper by a child psychologist who made a good case that public schooling is a form of child abuse. While I am not willing to go that far, there are many aspects of institutionalized schooling which are antithetical to the nuturing and interpersonal facilitation that makes for healthy development. Nothing beats the family as a unit of socialization in our society and, increasingly, parents feel undermined and disempowered by schooling elites that profess to know what is better for a child than the child's own parents. The data on homeschooling which has been actively implemented since the 80s supports the efficacy of homeschooling.

I will be posting more on homeschooling in future articles.

Link: NHERI - Content.

One in six soldiers returning from Iraq suffer from PTSD

Molly Ivins had this to say in her Thankgiving column on November 25, 2004. You read it first on my blog months ago when I expressed my concerns repeatedly about the mental health of our soldiers and my concern that the PTSD and other psychiatric problems of the Viet Nam vets would be repeated with Iraq.

"Mental health experts say we face a crisis because one in six returning soldiers from Iraq is suffering from post-traumatic stress, and the number is expected to grow rapidly. You will not be amazed to learn that the Pentagon did not anticipate the problem, since it has yet to anticipate anything about Iraq correctly.

A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute found 15.6 percent of Marines and 17.1 percent of soldiers surveyed after tours in Iraq suffer from major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can cause flashbacks, sleep disorders, violent outbursts, panic attacks, acute anxiety and emotional numbness. The numbers are expected to be higher among reservists than among career soldiers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 30 percent of Vietnam Vets experienced PTSD, and the greater tragedy was that at first it went unrecognized and later often went untreated. This time, we should have known it was coming (except this was supposed to be a "cakewalk" and our troops greeted with flowers). We're totally unprepared again, and the system cannot move fast enough to treat the problem. But hey, anyone who criticizes the Pentagon is "not supporting our troops," right?"

Link: - Creators Syndicate.

Five Million Smokers Died Worldwide in 2000


Considering all the rhetoric about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, no political entities or terrorism organizations have the tobacco companies beat when it comes to killing people or at least helping people kill themselves and the people they continually smoke around. 5 million people on planet earth a year. Can you imagine the toll in human life!?

"Globally, the leading cause of smoking-related deaths was cardiovascular disease, which killed more than 1 million people in the industrialised world and 670,000 in developing countries, the study's authors found.

That was followed by lung cancer in industrialised nations and chronic obstructive airways disease, which includes illnesses such as bronchitis, in developing countries.

More than half of all deaths occurred in smokers between the ages of 30 and 69, said the researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Queensland.

The team used statistical analyses and studied population and mortality data in 14 regions of the world."

Link: MedlinePlus: Five Million Smokers Died Worldwide in 2000 - Study.