Danville Express

Perspective - May 25, 2007

Why are kids disconnected?

A recent survey for the school district found that only 37 percent of the 4,500 students questioned said they felt they had positive communication with their families. Furthermore, the survey found:

* 49 percent of the students maintain healthy adult relationships;

* 42 percent believe they live in a caring neighborhood;

* 32 percent perceive their school climate as nurturing; and

* 34 percent felt they had adult role models.

These results raise more questions than they answer. Do they reflect feelings that are pervasive in the American teen population no matter how excellent the school district? Is it just in this well-off area that teens don't get enough time or guidance from their parents? Is there perhaps a problem here because teens feel pressured to keep up appearances? Are these percentages unique to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District or do surveys done in other parts of the nation or the Bay Area get the same results?

At first glance, it would seem the hard work of the district to provide a nurturing, positive environment is not working. But is this true or is it wrong to point a finger at the schools and the parents? Perhaps this feeling of disconnect is part of growing up, as teens search for their identities and their independence.

The survey was conducted in October by the Search Institute among students in the seventh, ninth and 11th grades, half girls and half boys, across the district. The institute at www.search-institute.org is an online resource for parents; it tries to convey to parents how much difference they make to their children and explores topics through a Parenting Matters section.

In response to the survey results, the school district has begun the HERO program, which urges adults, particularly parents, to get involved in their children's lives. We commend this program and any efforts made to reach out to our youths. But no matter how caring the family or the school district, the teens can be a turbulent time.

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