California’s fourth-grade students rank 46th out of 52 states in the nation in reading skills. According to the Department of Justice, low literacy in childhood is a strong indicator for life-long struggles in adulthood, including higher levels of crime and dependence on public assistance. Emphasis on literacy in early childhood goes a long way toward counteracting these issues.
Youth violence is a major health concern. According to the CDC, homicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. In 2011, more than a third of high school students admitted to having been in a fight in the prior year. Discussing conflict management early is an important preventative step in providing children tools on how to deal with anger issues and control volatile impulses before they lead to violence.
Childhood obesity rates in America have tripled over the past three decades. In the U.S. nearly 1 out of 3 people is classified as overweight. In addition, less than 3 in 10 high school students get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Educating children about good nutrition and an active lifestyle is vital in fostering life-long healthy habits and helping to fight a variety of diseases in adulthood, such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Bullying is a widespread and serious problem. From the playground to the classroom to the Internet, bullying can happen anywhere at any time. Ninety percent of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.
Sexual activity places teens at risk for HIV infection and other STDs, as well as unwanted pregnancy. According to the CDC, each year there are 20 million new STD infections and half of them are among adolescents aged 15-24. Sixty-five percent of high school students report they are sexually active.