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Who Is At-Risk?

There is serious debate over exactly what the term “at-risk” means. Some deny there is a need for such a term. The National At-Risk Education Network defines “at-risk” youth as:

  • At-risk of dropping out of school;
  • At-risk of not succeeding in life due to being raised in unfavorable circumstances.


Every day
in America*:

  • 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect
  • 1 young person dies from HIV infection
  • 5 children, or teens, commit suicide
  • 8 children are killed by firearms
  • 181 children are arrested for violent crimes
  • 383 children are arrested for drug abuse
  • 2,383 children are reported abused or neglected
  • 1,153 babies are born to teen mothers
  • 2,411 babies are born into poverty
  • 2,261 children drop out of high school every school day (1 of every 4 high school freshmen fails to finish high school in four years in the USA — multiply that by 180, and the annual figure astounds!)
  • 4,356 children are arrested

This is every day! Multiply these figures (except for the dropout numbers) by 365 if you can bear it. Also:

  • 9,200,000 children are without health insurance
  • 12,423,000 children live in poverty

All the children included in the above statistics (and more categories not listed) come to school carrying their burdens and issues with them. It is safe to assume that many of the children represented in the above figures are, indeed, at-risk of having decreased horizons of success. By default our schools have become the focus of efforts to address at-risk issues. Schools readily admit they are both inadequately informed and inadequately prepared for this immense task, but this has not stopped many of them from making the noble effort.

*These statistics are from Children’s Defense Fund 2008.

Sources: NAREN

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