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The all-purpose solution

April 28, 2006

Washington County's first Community Needs Assessments Forum this week brought out a number of concerns, including poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy.

There are short-term strategies needed to deal with those, to be sure, but there is only one long-term answer to what ails many in Washington County - education.

On the issue of teen pregnancy, for example, one of the reasons young girls don't abstain from sexual activity or take proper precautions is because they haven't envisioned a better future for themselves and their children.

A girl who is focused on a career and training is more likely to think about what effect an unplanned pregnancy would have on those dreams.

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In the same way, those who abuse drugs and alcohol are, in the words of a pop song, partying like there's no tomorrow. It may sound like fun, but if you can't envision your future, you are more likely to do things today that will make better things impossible.

Washington County's agencies and its citizens must work together to create a new attitude about education.

Dropping out of school must be seen as unacceptable. Not everyone will attend college, but without some advanced training, technical or otherwise, success is far less likely.

If there is only one thought parents and mentors can pass along to young people it should be this: Think about what you want to be in 10 years and whether what you're doing today is hurting or helping you reach that goal.

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