By Khalid Baig
In April President Clinton gathered an army of former presidents, state governors, city mayors and hundreds of prominent people from all 50 states to address one of the most pressing problems facing America today. He brought former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, to lead this army. Their task: Solve the problem of 15 million young Americans who are considered at-risk youth. “They are at risk of growing up unskilled, unlearned, or, even worse, unloved,” said Powell, who was appointed chairman of President’s Summit for America’s Future. The problem has “the potential to explode our society,” he warned.
He was not exaggerating. 15 million in a total population of about 60 million youth is a huge number. Mostly they come from dysfunctional families and fall victims to the “pathologies and poisons of the street.” Every year 3.4 million of them try drugs. Half a million attempt suicide. A lot of them will drop out of high school and will be functionally illiterate in a country with free universal education. Their sexual mores differ little from those of breeding horses. Recently a prominent lawyer and writer, Alan Dershowitz, suggested reducing the age of consent to 15. (Marriage at that age will, of course, remain illegal). Violent crimes committed by these youngsters have become such a problem that in May the Congress passed the Juvenile Crime bill that allows people as young as 13 to be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.