Latino Youth At Risk

A bi-annual federal survey just released by the Center for Disease Control reveals that Hispanic high school students use drugs and attempt suicide at higher rates than black and white students. Furthermore, while rates of sexual activity are on the decline for black and white students, there is no decline for Hispanic students.

“It’s disheartening that we aren’t seeing progress among Hispanic teens for certain risk factors,” said Howell Wechsler, the director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Experts have been unable to agree on an explanation for the gap. In an interview with the Associated Press, Wechsler noted that many Hispanic students face very different school environment than their black and white peers, pointing out that “there’s tremendous segregation in our schools.”

Others point to the fact that the survey did not collect data on parents' income or education level, which some experts consider to be a strong influence upon youths' behavior both in and out of school.

The questions remain: What is going on with our teens and how can we keep them from making such poor decisions? Do you think better schools and less segregation could help reverse this trend? Or does educating our teens begin in the community and at home?

- Gabriela Garcia