- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2007

Local students don’t have much faith in their government officials and think parents and teachers can do more to reach out to them, according to a report released yesterday.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) released its ninth annual Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network Adult Report Card, and adults received a C+ overall and no grade above a B.

“These results mean we’re not working hard enough and listening to kids,” acting CWLA Vice President Linda Spears said at a press conference. “We’re not listening to kids when we need the answer.”

In January and February, the CWLA polled 1,000 students ages 12 to 19 nationwide about how they think adults performed in 25 categories such as “teaching positive values” and “leading by example.”

The nonprofit group also held multiple focus groups of students from in and around the District, as well as Chicago and New York City.

Adults received their lowest score — a 2.73 on a five-point scale, or C- — in the category “running the government.”

Their grade in the category spiked after the September 11 attacks but has since declined, Miss Spears said.

James Ward, 19, of Rockville, participated in one of the focus groups. He said he and his peers are concerned about greed in politics, adding that a key strategy to fighting that is getting young people involved in politics early.

“A lot of people are just greedy now,” he said. “Youth-involved programs with the government would be a great way to start handling problems.”

Providing a safe place to live was the highest-graded category — a 3.71, or a B-.

Former D.C. resident Calvin Crosson, 19, of Rockville, said allaying a child’s fears can make a huge difference in a child or young adult’s sense of security at home.

“I used to live in the District in the ghetto so I was afraid to leave the house and go to school,” he said, adding that fear caused him to misbehave because he wanted be removed from his parents’ home and placed in a foster home outside the city.

Krystal McKinney, adolescent services division manager for the National Center for Children and Families, called the recommendations refreshing.

Miss McKinney said young people need attention from parents, many of whom are increasingly busy. She advocates quality youth services outside of the home as a remedy.

“We’re living in society right now where adults are so busy,” she said. “So when the adults are doing something positive, the kids miss out.”

White students graded adults worst on preventing teen drinking among white students. Black and Hispanic students graded them worst on running the government.

Among white students, adults did best in providing a safe home. Black students graded adults tops in teaching positive values. Hispanic students gave adults top marks in creating job opportunities.

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