California Youth in Transition         

Final Exam, Winter 2006          Name ________________________________________

 

This test is due by 6pm Friday, 3/17, by email to mmales@earthlink.net (in Word for Windows or text format only--ask for confirmation that I received it), or to my office at 224 College Eight (under door). Test is open-book, open-note; you may use any source of information (other than another person), although the most relevant are the class texts, videos, and lectures. Higher scores will be given to answers that are concise, information packed, well argued, and well defended. Additional space for answers on last page.

 

1.  (1 pt) GRE prep question:  _______ is to ________ as _________ is to _______.

    a.  Suicide .... homicide ... suburban ... barrio.

    b.  Santa Cruz youth trend... California youth trend... California youth trend... national                    youth trend.

    c.  Falling California teen felony crime ... falling California teen drug death ... rising                 California middle-aged felony crime ... rising California middle-aged drug death

    d.  Poor youth offender ... prison ... rich youth offender ... Ritalin.

    e.  All of the above.

 

2. (1 pt) Sometimes California teenagers do NOT just copy adult trends. Of the following behaviors, which TWO are the biggest ones in which teenagers show SHARPLY different trends than adults over the last 20-30 years? (place X before best answer.)

    a.  birth rates, 1970-2004

    b.  drug death rates, 1970-2003

    c.  drunken driving death rates, 1975-2004

    d.  felony crime rates, 1975-2004

    e.  unwed birth rates, 1970-2004

 

3.  (3 pts) Please briefly explain what “prevention” and “intervention” refer to in the juvenile justice system, give an example of each, and give at least one reason explaining why these approaches largely have proven ineffective in reducing crime.

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4. (3 pts) Stuart Tannock and Alissa Quart both depict youths as victimized by corporate interests. Please contrast how they state that this victimization occurs. Do they arrive at similar views on youthful competence to deal with modern life, or different ones?

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5.  (2 pts) Young California women are extreme. For example, California girls display much larger declines in suicide, drug deaths, and homicide victimization, and much faster increases in college enrollment, than do California boys or girls nationally (or California or national adults). California girls also display much slower declines in violent crime arrests and involvement as drivers in traffic accidents than do California boys. Please state a theory that explains these seemingly good/bad trends among California girls.

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6. (5 pts) Herb Childress says “adolescence is neither a condition nor a stage nor a phase.” Do you agree or disagree or... something else? Why? Please evaluate Childress’s statement by choosing how it applies to any ONE of the following:  (a) teenage driving, (b) Elliott Currie’s statements about middle-class youth in Road to Whatever, (c) adolescents and the law, (d) the young adult vote in election 2004, (e) one of the videos (pick from Questions with Answers or Rising to the Challenge) popular depictions of teenage problems and their causes, (f) “adolescent psychology,” (g) the MySpace.com controversy, or (h) a relevant topic of your choosing. _____________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

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7. (5 pts) This month’s Youth Today reprints articles (“The Tragedy of Substance Abuse,” and “Druggies”) by two teens writing in San Francisco youth magazines (YO! and Sprawl) arguing that in Marin County, “cocaine isn’t just used by a few small, obscure cliques in high schools. It’s everywhere.” In a “disturbing trend,” Marin’s suburban kids are “experimenting early,” with “hundreds” of youths seriously addicted to cocaine in a rising “epidemic” fed by “San Francisco gangs coming in to sell coke and weed to major dealers in Marin County” and parents unaware of their teens’ “selfish” habits.

 

So, I looked for evidence of Marin’s cocaine epidemic among its 25,000 teens ages 10-19, involving either county residents or occurring in the county. I found:

 

                a) Drug-related deaths, teens:  just two in last 10 years; none since 1999. Last teen cocaine-related death: 1978. Over last five years, teens comprised 1 of the county’s total 146 deaths from illegal drugs; 20-agers (5%), over age 30 (94%). The peak year for teen drug deaths was the 1970s. I also looked for cocaine as a factor in other deaths involving teens, and found none.

                b) Drug-related hospital emergencies, teens, last 15 years: 1 for cocaine (19 year-old in 2003). Of 701 total admissions for abuse of illegal drugs, teens comprised 6%, 20-agers (9%), over age 30 (85%). These have declined in recent years.

                c) Drug treatment admissions: in 2004, juveniles comprised 66, or 3%, of Marin County’s 2,166 admissions for all ages for drug/alcohol treatment. Three-fourths of admissions were for alcohol abuse.

                d) Drug arrests:  juveniles comprised 4% of Marin County’s 448 arrests for illicit drugs other than marijuana in 2004. (However, teens accounted for 48% of Marin County’s arrests for marijuana!). These have declined in recent years.

                e) Other indicators: In the last five years, Marin County teens had 6 suicides, 3 murders (no youths have been arrested for murder since 1999), a school dropout rate of 0.8%, and three involvements in fatal traffic crashes involving intoxication, none listed as cocaine--all among the lowest rates in the state. All these problems appear to be dropping. (However, there were also reports that authorities responded to 2,600 cases of child abuse/neglect and 728 domestic violence cases involving adults in the county in 2004).

 

So, we have a MAJOR MYSTERY. Two Marin teens insist they personally know that cocaine use and addiction are “epidemic” and rising among “hundreds” of their peers (neither admit to using coke themselves). This is similar to Elliott Currie’s allegations of a major suburban youth crisis, including drugs. I don’t know what’s going on among Marin high schoolers. Yet, I can say that Marin’s teens are not dying (cocaine is an easy drug for toxicologists to detect), going to ER, being sent to addiction treatment, getting arrested, causing or dying in traffic accidents or other mishaps, killing themselves or others, or any other problem one would expect from a widespread hard-drug habit. Nor are any indicators of a rising youth drug problem, or of a big drug abuse problem among 20-agers that could be a legacy of teen cocaine abuse; quite the opposites. Further, the problem is not denial or failure to detect drug problems: we can see cocaine and other drugs certainly are being detected as problems causing deaths, ER cases, arrests, etc. among adults. Please examine this issue, with special attention to (a) sources of information (i.e., are statistical measures adequate to detect such a teen problem? If not, what new measures might be? Conversely, would there be reasons for these teens to wildly exaggerate the problem? If so, what? You can use Currie’s Road to Whatever if you think it’s relevant), and (b) devise your own theory about what is going on with “Marin’s teen cocaine epidemic.” ____________________________________________

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extra space for answers

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have a good break!