Suburbs aren't really ?safe havens' - April Avison

It's easy to pass judgment on parents when you've never been one but it still amazes me that some people believe that wealth and privilege will save their children from all things that are bad.

The Manhattan Institute, a New York-based conservative think tank, recently released results of a survey that shows what I hope we all know by now, that teenagers – urban or suburban – are all prone to do those things that teenagers do.

Jay Greene and Greg Forster authored the survey, analyzing data collected from the same group of students in three waves, from 1995 to 2002. The survey included an estimated 20,000 students.

"People who think they've escaped these kinds of societal issues by moving to the suburbs – we think they're mistaken," Greene said. "The suburban schools aren't safe havens."

The results show that students who live in wealthy suburban areas are "just as likely to have sex, use controlled substances and break the law."

Among the results of the study, which focused on high school grades:

? Two-thirds of suburban and urban 12th-graders have had sex; 43 percent of suburban 12th-graders and 39 percent of urban 12th-graders have had sex outside of a "romantic relationship."

? 74 percent of suburban 12th-graders and 71 percent of urban 12th-graders have tried alcohol more than two or three times.

? 22 percent of suburban 12th-graders and 16 percent of urban 12th-graders say they have driven while drunk.

? More than 40 percent of 12th-graders in urban and suburban schools have used illegal drugs.

? 20 percent of urban 12th-grade girls have been pregnant; 14 percent of suburban 12th-grade girls have.

It seems as though some parents choose to be na?ve and think that their child would never engage in such behavior. But isn't it better to go ahead and admit that your child may be making some bad decisions so that you are able to help them? It seems some parents are too afraid that such an admission is also an admission that they are a bad parent.

Again, I'm no expert on parenting, but having a teenager who has tried drinking and drugs doesn't mean the parent isn't doing their job. Teens will be teens. It's being a bad parent when you ignore the problem or pretend that a bank account will save the day.

April Avison is the city editor for the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.