Making or Breaking Our Youth

A new study is placing the success among students in southwest Georgia in the hands of more than just local school systems.

Disciplinary problems and low test scores in Georgia schools led to the governor's signing of an education package this week to reform schools, but educators are zeroing in on factors outside the classroom affecting that behavior.

Jacqulyn Saunders, a counselor at Thomasville High, says, "We try to give them educational, social and all other kinds of benefits, but sometimes we may overlook those things that connect in the community that flow to the school"

Jenny Bostick with Georgia Family Connection adds, "That's one of the things we've heard loud and clear today it can't be just a school project. The community needs to embrace the concept, it's up to all of us."

Survey results of seventh and eleventh graders in southwest Georgia show the more assets like family support and community and religious values a child has, the better they perform in school and the less likely they are to take on risky behaviors.

"We have to reach out to parents and significant others, churches, who have an impact and work together," says Peggy Nielson, with the Georgia Board of Education.

Nielson says school systems need to realize that partnership and help bridge the gap between education and the community.

"If we work together in southwest Georgia, our children will possess the assets they need to succeed," adds Jenny Bostick.

More than 4,000 kids were surveyed for the study. The results will be used to draft a youth development policy for the state of Georgia, which focuses on problems in the lives of students and prevention methods.