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Joint Center for Political and Economic

Young Black Males in Jeopardy: Risk Factors and Intervention Strategies

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Too many black male adolescents are destroying themselves, warn concerned social scientists. Dying disproportionately from homicide (their major killer), suicide (tripled since 1960), and drug abuse (endemic), their risk-taking behavior often mimics reckless daredevils courting disaster. Inner-city black males are overrepresented among high school dropouts and underrepresented on college campuses. Burdened with an unemployment rate that is three times higher than it was in 1960, they fill the lowest civilian and military jobs. Detractors claim they lack self-esteem, loathe the work ethic, and generally are social leeches. But University of California associate professor Jewelle Taylor Gibbs believes poverty, racism, family disintegration, and community disorganization more accurately account for the precarious plight of young black males.

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