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Remembering teen-agers, too

Fresh evidence surfaces that teen-age Americans need the warm and caring protection of adults quite as much as toddlers do. It is too often easy to judge the requirements of children by their height: The taller they get, the less support they require.

But that is fallacious. It is helpful to teens to realize that adults - family, friends, and society-at-large - are supportive as they deal with the many challenges of growing up in contemporary society.

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One serious challenge some children face is physical or sexual abuse. A new study by two New England researchers concludes that more teens than younger children are victimized, despite the presumption that older children can ward off unwanted physical attention. Adults need to act with courage and compassion if they believe any child is confronting this problem.

Society also needs to ensure the safety of its teen-age children en route to school. Adults in Detroit are now moving in that direction, jointly seeking a way to protect schoolgirls from sexual attack; more than 50 have been raped in the past year.

Given the support and protection of adults, teens can be far more successful in maintaining high standards than they are given credit for. For instance, a new survey of high school seniors shows that daily marijuana and alcohol use declined for the fifth consecutive year.

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