Between Two Worlds: Young Latinos Coming of Age in America

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This report from the Pew Hispanic Center  includes this opening paragraph:

Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group in the United States. One- in-five schoolchildren is Hispanic. One-in-four newborns is Hispanic. Never before in this country’s history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans. By force of numbers alone, the kinds of adults these young Latinos become will help shape the kind of society America becomes in the 21st century.

 The report goes on to explore the attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force outcomes of young Latinos. Based on a new Pew Hispanic Center telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,012 Latinos, the report is supplemented by the Center’s analysis of government demographic, economic, education and health data sets.

The report provides a mixed picture of the lives of these young Americans. Young Latinos are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. Yet they are much more likely than other American youths to drop out of school and to become teenage parents. They are more likely than white and Asian youths to live in poverty. And they have high levels of exposure to gangs.

What does all this mean?  If these young men and women are our future, and they clearly are, then I think it should be a national priority to ensure their success.  No one benefits from a large population who cannot succeed.  This means we need policies in place to help Latino youth succeed in school, prevent early parenthood, and to have opportunities so that they can become productive citizens.

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