Score one for area’s youth

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Council approves funding for ‘bridge’ teen center near high school

By Carol A. Clark

Well-known youth advocates battled on behalf of local teenagers at Tuesday’s county council meeting.
“I’ve been working for the welfare of Los Alamos young folk for almost 40 years, including 18 years in elected office,” said Vice Chair Morrie Pongratz of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board (JJAB).
“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.’ We recognize the truth in the African proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ That is especially true in this day and age where frequently both parents are working and especially in Los Alamos where we have few extended families. Our parents need help.”
The school district has surveyed students for the last 20 plus years, he said. It finds that younger teens are a pretty healthy lot but as they get older a substantial percentage engage in risky behaviors.
“Suicide, sexual activity, drug use, DWI, smoking and truancy,” Pongratz said. “Our teens are not a static population like we seniors. They change from freshman year to senior year. So our efforts to improve their welfare are more on the prevention side than the reformation side.”  

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