A question from David Satterhwaite, Plymouth, MI:
Teenagers need to know that the society has rules which have consequences if violated. They also need to have the assurance that they have a reasonable chance of economic sufficiency if the work hard and conform to society expectations.
How do we assure at-risk youth that playing by the rules is worth it?Deed must follow word in order to convince them. Do you have any programs in mind?
Congressman John Sununu responds:
Young people in America have more opportunity to receive an education, earn a job andenjoy the rewards of that work than any of their peers across the world. Our political andeconomic freedoms are unmatched and examples of those who prosper from hard work are allaround us. From the every day to the extraordinary: college drop-out Bill Gates, Supreme CourtJustice Clarence Thomas, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
The best message that we can send to at risk youth is that from a modest and diverse background can come extraordinary success. The key ingredients are basic and well known: education, individual discipline, personal responsibility and hard work.
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. responds:
I could not agree more that our young people must see a light at the end of the tunnel if they heed our advice and play by the rules. Too often, our at-risk young people feel that no matter how hard they work, they will not get ahead and thus resort to crime as a means to get ahead. If society fails to provide incentives, such as real educational opportunities for all students at all levels and the possibility of landing a good job, we are sure to lose children to a life of crime and missed opportunities.
To achieve this goal, we must improve primary and secondary education and expand opportunities to attend college by helping families afford the skyrocketing tuition costs. That is why I support tuition tax credits for families and scholarships to encourage young people to pursue higher education, as well as fully funding the Head Start program.
We have a responsibility to promote job growth in our cities and suburbs by forming partnerships with business and setting economic policy that encourages growth.
We would be shirking our part of the deal with our teenagers if we do not put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. It is easy to tell kids what they should do, and that they will be punished if they don't. It is quite another to put the mechanisms in place to allow them to meet their potential. Investing in education and job creation will create a climate for those who play by the rules to succeed, so we will not have to invest as much in prisons and incarceration fees.
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