Our regions Personal Financial Factor

Approximately ˝ of the population of H/Roads have single Mother households. Many of these mothers are faced with using time consuming public transportation, to seek available work that tends to be predominantly minimum wage. Sometimes a caregiver is available within the extended family unit, however, we are finding more teenagers being responsible for their brothers and sisters.

We have a visible population of latch key kids, who because they are not monitored after getting off the school bus, tend to gravitate to where kids assemble to find companionship. In addition, there is a growing number of no key kids as many parents are not choosing to having their house be an assemble point for neighborhood children when they are not home. The lack of a present caregiver to monitor who is in the house, gives youth the need for some ‘authority figure, and that gives an open door to gangs.

To add to this lack of visible responsible adult supervision, we recently have had several Boys and Girls Clubs close.

According to the 2000, US census 19.4% of Norfolk residents live below poverty. All Hampton Roads cities suppress the state’s poverty rate of 9.6% except for Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. 61% of our cities youth, receive free lunch. This figure is discussed routinely.

What does that mean to children who live here? After working 10 years with Critically At Risk Youth, we have found that the #1 contributing factor that leads youth to make self destructive decisions, is low self esteem. It is apparent that we are ripe for a bumper crop of peer pressure due to the following destabilizing community factors. Being identified as financially disadvantaged, pointedly affects youths self esteem.

Generational poverty hugely affects youth and creates a frantic desire to grasp for any perceived option that gives them attention or notoriety, regardless if it is self destructive. Visible destructive behaviors like Smoking, drinking, drug use, and violence are visible reflected in our areas youth.

In Virginia 21% percent of the youth smoke, and 9,700 new smokers start every year. 7.5 % of pregnant mothers smoke. Cigarettes are routinely the gateway drug to additional abuse as 70% had initiated cigarettes before marijuana and about 60% had initiated cigarettes before marijuana. Locally, one half of the youth in our regions Detention Centers are there due to drug related crimes. 9.83 percent of the youth in region 5 (Hampton Roads) have smoked marijuana in the last year.
 

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