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Adolescents at RiskPrevalence and Prevention$
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Joy G. Dryfoos

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195072686.001.0001

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Classification and Organization of Programs

Classification and Organization of Programs

(p.115) 8 Classification and Organization of Programs
Adolescents at Risk

Joy G. Dryfoos

Oxford University Press

Simulated risk estimates provide a quantitative framework for addressing the need of a significant number of children in the United States who are in dire straits: failing in school, delinquent, taking drugs, and having unprotected intercourse. Of the 28 million girls and boys aged 10 to 17, it is estimated that 1 in 10 (almost 3 million) are in critical situations. Another group of 4 million (15%) have excessively high prevalence rates for some but not all of the high-risk behaviors. Thus the future of 7 million youth—one in four in this country—is in jeopardy unless major and immediate changes are made in their school experiences, in their access to opportunities for healthy adolescent development, and in the quality of life in their communities. The children and their families require intensive support services to ameliorate their problems. The school systems must undergo rapid reorganization to respond to the needs of the families in these communities. Another 25 percent of youth (7 million) are at moderate risk, because of school problems, minor delinquencies, light substance use, and early, but protected, intercourse. These young people would make up the target population for concentrated prevention approaches including school remediation, counseling, and comprehensive services. About half of the nation’s youth (14 million) experience few problems and are probably at low risk of negative consequences from their behavior, but they too require general preventive services and health promotion programs. And, of course, effective schools are a social necessity for everyone. From these rough estimates, it may be possible to conceptualize a more logical, less fragmented strategy for implementing programs aimed at reducing problem behaviors. It is apparent that some children need a great deal of help, others a little, and some not any. Interventions aimed at the common predictors or antecedents of behaviors may have a better chance of success than those that are focused on only one behavior, such as drugs or sex. It seems reasonable to conclude that fewer children would be failing to achieve if the separate categorical interventions of the past had been more successful.

Keywords:   Adolescent Family Life Act, Block grants, Carnegie Foundation, Demonstration grants, Employment programs, Federal level programs, Head Start, Illinois programs, Job Start

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