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(This document was written by Carl House using the best information available in 1997. Data for some of the trends identified is different today, most importantly, crime and teen pregnancy rates. Both have declined in recent years.)
Southeast Florida is defined as the eight counties from Indian River and Okeechobee to Monroe, equivalent to Districts 9, 10, 11 and 15 of the Florida Department of Children and Families. That area included 4.5 million people and 307,000 children ages 13-18 in 1990.
29% of kids entering 9th grade drop out of school without receiving a high school or a general equivalency diploma. In 1996, 11,117 children over the age of 16 were not attending school, had not graduated, and were not considered exempt. In 1995, 17 to 18 percent of public school students in grades 6 to 12 were absent from school for 21 or more days during the academic year. In the same year, 18 percent of the same group of students were suspended in-school; 16 percent of students were suspended out-of-school. In 1994, 16 percent of all arrests were of children. In 1990, 14 percent of people in Florida lived in poverty, and 18 percent of all children lived in poverty. In 1994, the overall population living in poverty totaled 15 percent; while data is currently unavailable, it can be surmised that the percentage of children in poverty has likewise increased.
Teenagers are 3.5 times more likely to commit serious crimes than the average American. The highest crime rate is of youngsters 16 and 17 years old, four times the rate of all Americans. There was a fifty-seven percent increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles aged 10 through 17, and a forty-three percent increase in unmarried girls aged 15 through 19 having babies.
Between 1985 and 1995, violent crime arrest rates increased substantially, with the rate of juveniles ages 14, 15 or 16 up more than eighty percent. The violent crime arrest rate for 17 year olds increased more than seventy percent.
In March, 1994 "local youth gang experts" estimated that Broward County had between 30 and 40 gangs (with up to 60 smaller or less developed gangs) and as many as 3000 youths affiliated with a gang.
In 1995, six percent of murders in the U.S. were juvenile gang killings, which were up thirty-eight percent over the past five years. Ninety-six percent of juvenile gang killings were by means of firearms.
A number of the illicit drugs other than marijuana also continued longer term increases into 1996. Hallucinogens (other than LSD) taken as a class, continued gradual increases in 1996 at the 8th, 10th and 12th grade levels (taken as a sample of all grade levels).
The use of cocaine in any form continued a gradual upward climb.
In 1996, the proportions of students having five or more drinks in a row during the two weeks preceeding the survey were sixteen percent, twenty-five percent and thirty percent for the 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, respectively.
Child sexual abuse medial examinations increased dramatically from 1980 (175 cases) through 1992 (1381 cases), nearly a sevenfold increase.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Broward County of persons 15-24 (accidents being the leading cause). The rate per 100,000 population for persons 15-24 is 15.3 in Broward. In Florida, the rate is 14.4 and is the third most frequent cause of death.
Florida has one of the nation's worst school drop-out rates.
The fastest growing segment of the Florida population between now and the year 2010 will be teenagers 15-19. In 1995 there were 1.2 million teenagers in Florida and there will be nearly 1.7 million by the year 2010, an increase of 36 percent. The total population of Florida is expected to increase by twenty-six percent during this time (from 14.1 to 17.8 million).
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