For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 7, 2005
Fact Sheet: Making a Difference for America's Youth
- The President and Mrs. Laura Bush highlighted the need to volunteer
to help children and teens reach their full potential. Today, Mrs.
Bush announced two new important steps:
- This fall, Mrs. Bush will convene the first-ever White House
Conference on Helping America's Youth. The Conference will promote
public awareness of the various problems facing at-risk youth in our
Nation, and it will bring together policymakers, research experts,
foundations, faith-based and volunteer organizations, educators,
coaches, and parents to share examples of what is already working to
make a difference in the lives of young Americans, and to generate new
ideas that can be used across the country.
- Mrs. Bush also announced the creation of a new guide - the
"Community Guide to Helping America's Youth: An Assessment Tool for
Youth Outreach" - which will be made available at the White House
Conference on Helping America's Youth. The guide will be designed to
help communities identify the challenges they face and take specific
steps to improve the lives of boys and girls living in their areas.
The guide will reflect the work of researchers and experts and will be
created with input from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human
Services, Education, Justice, Labor, Housing and Urban Development,
Agriculture, Interior, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and
the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Background on Helping America's Youth
Young Americans in many communities are at risk. Research has
shown that children are less likely to engage in risky behaviors when
they are connected to parents, family, school, community, and faith.
Risky behaviors, including illegal drug and tobacco use, violence, and
early sexual activity, are among the top causes of disease and early
death among youth. Statistics show:
- Boys often begin to fall behind girls in elementary school, which
leads to higher dropout rates and juvenile delinquency, and they often
show signs of behavioral problems early in life.
- Youth who fall behind in reading have a greater chance of dropping
out of high school altogether.
- Each year, there are approximately 15 million new STD cases in the
U.S., and about one-quarter of these are teenagers.
- Half of all new HIV infections affect those 24 and younger, and
almost 900,000 women under the age of 19 become pregnant every year.
- Injury and violence is the leading cause of death among youth aged
5-19: Motor vehicle crashes account for 31% of all deaths among youth
aged 5-19, and alcohol and other drug use is a factor in approximately
41% of all deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
- Statistics show boys are at greater risk than girls for developing
learning disabilities, illiteracy, dropping out of school,
substance-abuse problems, violence, juvenile arrest, and early death
caused by violent behavior. As boys grow older, risky behaviors, such
as alcohol and drug abuse, become more prevalent, and gang involvement
- In addition, more children are growing up without a father involved
in their lives, and studies show an overwhelming number of violent
criminals in the United States are males who grew up without fathers
involved in their lives.
- The President and Mrs. Bush Are Committed to Helping America's Youth. The President and Mrs. Bush believe every American has an opportunity to help children and youth in their families and
communities to avoid trouble and lead more hopeful lives. Faith-based,
community, and volunteer organizations across the Nation are involved
in efforts to reach at-risk youth and get them involved in their
communities. The Federal government plays an important role by
pursuing policies that help the good works of these organizations.
- The Importance of Family: The President and Mrs. Bush believe parents and family are the first and most important influence in every child's life, providing a foundation of love and support. The President's FY 2006 budget supports families in many ways, including:
- Promoting Responsible Fatherhood: The President requested $40 million for a new fatherhood initiative to be awarded in competitive
grants to faith-based and community organizations for skill-based
marriage and parenting education, and other services that help fathers
provide emotional and financial support to their children.
- Encouraging Healthy Marriages: The President has requested $100 million for a state-based competitive matching grant program to support healthy marriages, and an additional $100 million for research,
demonstration projects, and technical assistance on family formation
and healthy marriage activities.
- The Importance of School: Schools equip children with the knowledge and skills to be successful throughout their lives. The President's FY 2006 budget helps to ensure America's schools are producing results for every child in America and includes initiatives
focused on children at-risk.
- The President's Striving Readers initiative focuses on improving
the reading skills of high school students who read below grade level.
This Presidential initiative, first funded in 2005, builds on the No
Child Left Behind elementary school reading initiatives. The
President's FY 2006 budget will provide $200 million, an increase of
$175 million and eight times the 2005 enacted level, to improve the
reading skills of these high school students.
- Character education provides children with the tools to develop
moral and ethical strength. The President has requested more than $24
million for the Character Education Initiative to encourage schools and
school districts to develop curricula that teach strong values, promote
good character, and help children develop a sense of responsibility to
- The Importance of Community: What matters most in a child's life is a loving, caring adult, whether that is a parent, teacher, coach, pastor, or mentor. The needs of at-risk youth will not be addressed solely by the Federal government, but by communities in partnership with parents and families, government, schools, and faith-based and community groups. The President created the USA Freedom Corps and the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to help more Americans in need.
- The President has proposed, in his FY 2006 budget, a new,
three-year, $150-million initiative to help youth at risk of gang
influence and involvement through grants to faith-based and community
organizations. These organizations will provide a positive model for
youth - one that respects women and rejects violence.
- The President has proposed, in his FY 2006 budget, an additional $50 million for mentoring the children of prisoners. The initiative,
in its second year, will help 100,000 children over three years find
the support they need to succeed.
- To encourage teens to take personal responsibility for their
actions and to encourage parents to educate their children about the
dangers of early sexual activity, the President has proposed $206
million for an abstinence initiative, including: doubling the funding
for abstinence-only education programs over three years; developing
model abstinence-only education curricula; ensuring the Federal
government is sending a consistent message to teens; and creating a
public education campaign for parents and teens about this important
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