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It is extremely important to get an education and graduate high school. Without obtaining a high school diploma, a GED or College Degree, an individual will likely experience great difficulties in finding and obtaining a job. As a result of such basic educational requirements enforced by society and more specifically employers… an individual may also have a difficult time functioning and earning a reasonable income. Additionally, with no financial resources to support a family, this puts the individual in the bottom 5 to 16 percent of Americans whom we deem to be in poverty. With crime most apparent in the lower- and underclass, we can make the assumption that a lot of dropouts come from these groups of individuals. To make a difference, we must start where there is the greatest chance of dropouts, and that of course is at the bottom of the societal pyramid. So, if we reduce the dropout rates, it may help with the crime rates.

The intent of this research proposal is to better understand the cause of dropouts and the affect they have on society. More importantly, it is to identify the problems so that the juvenile system can help prevent further continuance and ultimately reduce the underclass crime rate in dropouts. In efforts to help diminish the dropout rate, it can:

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  1.  stimulate the economy;
  2.  decrease the amount of unemployment;
  3. cut the size of the underclass in half, which in turn will decrease the vast majority of visible crime.

By making it difficult for high school students to become predisposed to poverty and crime, we can improve the outcome for future generations. I want to better understand the internal cause of this phenomenon, but in order to do that we have to start from the external cause. I am going to be looking at how society is affected, as well as, how they affect the dropouts.

The reason they dropped out was always a mystery to me, and I always just thought to myself that, “These people must be stupid, so they dropout. ” I was quick to learn how ignorant I was myself. Background:High school graduation was never really tracked until the late 1900’s. 3 So, dropout rates were never really a sought after statistic. Archived data has now been used to understand the graduation rates dating back almost a century ago. In 1870, the earliest date on record, only 2 percent of 17-year-olds in the nation had a secondary-level education.

In 1940, for the first time, half of all students finished high school. Although graduation did not become an established norm until the 1950s, the U. S. graduation rate reached its historical high point at the end of the 1960s, with the graduation rate peaking at 77 percent in 1969. 3 It looked as though high school graduation was becoming a trend, but something must have happened after Class of ’69 to cause the national average to drop more than ten percent in just over 30 years.

In the late 1980’s, when modern-day data became readily available to public schools, the graduation rate slowly was on the decline from record highs of around 70 percent. 3 The graduation rate plummeted during the early 1990s, eventually stabilizing around 66 percent by the end of the decade. As stated by the EPE Research Center, 2010; U. S. Department of Education, “since then, [graduation rate] has generally been characterized by gradual but steady improvements. The class of 2005 was once again earning diplomas at a pace last seen in the early 1990s.

However, two consecutive annual declines since then have eroded the nation’s graduation rate, which stood at slightly less than 69 percent for the class of 2007”. 3 With all this talk about graduating or not, the underlying reasons for the decline were unheard of; dropping out to help support their family financially, to pursue work, or probably the worst thing that can happen from dropping out of high school – living the criminal lifestyle. Key Questions:

  • What actually defines a high school dropout?
  • What provokes students to drop out of high school?
  • What is the dropout rate of high school students in Virginia?
  • How do high school dropouts affect society?
  • Are high school dropouts more prone to lead criminal lives? How can society go about preventing future dropouts?


Every year nationwide, thousands of students dropout of high school. Of these students, 54 percent of dropouts ages 16 to 24 were jobless, compared with 32 percent for high school graduates of the same age, and 13 percent for those with a college degree. 8 High school dropouts are a very serious topic in modern-day society.

With such a debate about taxes and who should be paying for what, it is important to get an education; not only to voice an opinion, but not to be a detriment to the economy as a teen/young adult. High school dropouts hurt the economy, costing the federal government millions of tax payers dollars. Since dropouts are more prone to lead a lifestyle involved with drugs, alcohol, and early pregnancy, it is crucial to identify individuals early in their high school career, and give them the assistance needed to stay in school.

By taking action in helping the community decrease the dropout rate and encourage more students to graduate, we can help our economy save billions of dollars a year. An increase in graduation rates can mean less tax payer money towards school assistance programs, and more tax payers to pay the government to maintain our cities and keep crime off the streets. According to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Research Center, “poor earning power, unemployment, or frustration,”1 may lead individuals to commit criminal acts.

Crime rates in Virginia are still on the low end of the spectrum, but by decreasing dropouts, we can keep the crime rates even lower. By helping in our community and informing schools of the ongoing problem, it is possible to make a tremendous difference in our economic state. What actually defines a dropout? In Virginia, we use the definition that was determined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Stated by the NCES, “a dropout is an individual who was enrolled in school at some time during the previous school year but was not enrolled on October 1 of the current school year.

Or, they were not enrolled on October 1 of the previous school year although expected to be in membership; and – has not graduated from high school or completed a state- or district-approved educational program, and – does not meet any of the following exclusions: transfer to another public school district, private school, or state- or district-approved education program; temporary school-recognized absence due to suspension or illness; death”. 2 The state does not consider students a dropout by merely not attending school, although that is the only way to pass and get a diploma, it is based on the students actual enrollment.

What provokes students to drop out of high school? There are many factors that cause students to drop out of high school. Without identifying the specific cause for dropouts, it is hard to know how to help prevent it. One significant factor influencing high school dropout rates is family income. Along with income, older siblings or friends can influence dropouts by dropping out themselves and ensuring it is the right thing to do. Ultimately, dropouts can be triggered due to the racial and gender attacks that seem more relevant these days.

Department of Education, students from low-income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school than students from high-income families. 2 In other words, due to the predisposition to a life of poverty, it is more likely the student will end up in poverty due to incompletion of high school. While living in poverty, school may not be the first thing on a students mind. Survival is always the most important factor to human beings. Without means of surviving, humans can’t accommodate the other necessities, like getting a high school education.

At a young age, it is really hard to keep oneself away from drugs, alcohol, and crime. Students whose parents have low expectations are also more likely to dropout of high school and resort to crime by means of rebelling against their parents. A study done by the New York Times demonstrated that, “[high school dropouts] will commit crimes to get an adrenaline rush and so that they can release some built up stress from the household”. 8 What this means is that students have too much time on their hands, and too little time is spent concentrating on school work.

Either the parents do not stress the importance of homework, or they are not there to help the student when he or she is struggling in class What is the dropout rate of high school students in Fairfax County, Virginia? Fairfax County, Virginia projected a much lower dropout rate in contrast with the national average. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “Virginia’s high school dropout rates have decreased in recent years”,2 and subsequently the “Virginia’s property crime rate (as measured per 100,000 population) was 2,250, a decline again from the previous year”. Virginia has been on a good trend of ‘cleaning our act up’ when it comes to turning around our educational system. According to the NCES: Virginia had the 14th lowest dropout rate in the country. Virginia’s 2009 rate was also lower than the national rate of 4. 1 percent and the rates of its peer states. Tennessee’s dropout rate in 2009 was 3. 2 percent, North Carolina was at 5. 3 percent, and Maryland’s rate was 3. 0 percent. Wyoming had the lowest dropout rate in the nation in 2009 at 1. 1 percent. How do high school dropouts effect society?

High school dropouts destroy the nation’s competitive edge when it comes to education. The U. S. ranks 18th in high school graduation rates among developed countries, and workers with an education beyond high school are predicted to increase by only four percent through 2020. 2 At the same time, the nation’s senior citizen population will greatly increase over the next decade, especially when compared to the number of working-age Americans. This is going to lead to an increase of assisted living senior citizens. Furthermore, high school dropouts earn a tremendous amount less and contribute much less to stimulate the economy.

The lifetime income difference between high school graduates and dropouts is estimated to be $260,000; the difference in lifetime income tax payments is $60,000. 6 What this shows is, dropouts alone are going to make a significantly less amount of money, but along side the fact that they live in poverty as a student, this just means they will be in more of a deficit as an adult. The combined lifetime earning losses of one group of 18-year-olds that never completes high school is $156 billion or 1. 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

So, for example, if the United States was able to cut the number of dropouts in half, in a single cohort of 20-year-olds, the country would gain $45 billion through extra tax revenue and reduced public health, crime and justice, and welfare payment costs. 6 Moreover, families of high school dropouts are likely to be on some form of public assistance. For example, single mothers who lack a high school diploma are very likely to access housing assistance, food stamps, and/or federal assistance to needy families. If all single mothers obtained at least a high school education, the annual cost savings would be $3. billion. 6 We can clearly see that getting an education is crucial if there is any sight of having a family. Without any means of money and no education, it is extremely hard to get a well-paying job to survive in our economy. What is the a connection between dropouts and criminal activity? Dropouts are 3. 5 times more likely to be arrested than high school graduates and more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated, says “School or the Streets: Crime and America’s Dropout Crisis,” a report from the non-profit organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

What this can mean is that dropouts are seeing crime as an alternative. Through music, media, and social networking, students can be often aroused by the thought of stealing, gangs, or even killing to survive. Crime is talked about everywhere, including the news and social networks. To most citizens, it is a mystery at how people can commit such inhumane crimes. This can be understood by knowing the type of environment that the individual grew up in. For example, a student whose parents always fight, might come in to school and get in a lot of trouble because his anger towards his parents.

On the other hand, if they lived in a neighborhood with gang activity and gun shots at night, they are more inclined to get involved with violent crime later in life. Students who dropout are more likely inclined to a criminal life to survive. A study by the New York Times showed that, male dropouts were 47 times more likely than college graduate to be jailed; more than half, 53 percent to be exact, become recidivists. 8 By preventing dropouts, and increasing the amount of students going to college and continuing education, we can prevent more crime.

How can society go about preventing future dropouts? Our society has been trying to combat the increasing number of teens dropping out of high school every day. The Advertising Council and U. S. Army’s high school dropout prevention campaign evolved into the national “Boost” campaign. This campaign was established to help students get on a better track for graduation. Extra learning assistance offered outside of school, and peer-to-peer learning classes for students to have one-on-one teaching in school.

These programs help the students feel more inclined to succeed in high school and fill that gap of time students have after school to get involved with gangs or crime. Another good way the community helps students is by Big Brother Big Sister. They have been proven to help increase student grades, and help make it less likely students will interact with drugs and alcohol. This in turn will prevent students from having exposure to these things, and keep them from experimenting later in life. Also, another program dedicated to keeping students in school and away from crime is BoostUP.

This group is sponsored by the AdCouncil and the U. S. Army to help students get support and assistance needed to graduate high school. Methodology:For a better understanding of high school dropout rates and the cause of them, I would first go to different high schools, in varying income areas, and obtain the names of the students enrolled in the previous year who are not currently enrolled. For example, get a list of students enrolled before October 1, 2010 and then get a list of students who were not enrolled after October 1, 2011, and this will determine the list of dropouts.

I would give each dropout a number, and then randomly choose the individuals with a random number selection software. I will have a survey for the student to fill out without the parents in the room; this gives the student the feeling of privacy, and hopefully more honesty in the answers. The questions would be related to how much time they have to do homework and if the parents help them; along with how much time is spent doing chores around the house, and are their parents working a lot or unemployed. The income of the family is one concern, but at the same time, the psychiatric state of the student is most important.

If the student is not doing well in school and feels like nothing will change, it can lead the student to be less motivated and more likely to follow the path of dropouts. Understanding a students psychological state of mind can help draw trends about how other students are behaving in school. Field Work For my field work, I got in touch with an old friend to understand the cause of his dropout Sophomore year. At the time, I figured he just dropped out of high school because he was failing his classes. I never thought that there was more to it.

I chatted with him over Facebook and asked a couple questions. He asked that I keep it anonymous. What caused you to drop out of high school? “I was 15 years old, dating [a girl] for almost a year. It was our first time and we didn’t use any protection. I got [her] pregnant and wanted to leave her because I was scared, but my mother told me that ‘You got into this mess, so you have to handle it. ‘ I picked up a job doing yard work with my fathers company and he paid me under the table. I then had to use the money to support my wife, but also asked my mother for some help.

When [the baby] was born, my wife and I faced more struggles than we could ever imagine. I was so busy with going to school and passing, my mother took care of my son. Going to school was one of my least concerns, especially since I was always thinking about the child. I didn’t think it would impact me so much, but without providing for my own family, I felt like a useless father. At the end of my Freshman year, my father passed away from a heart attack. ” How did this effect your family? Peers? “The event as a whole, dropping out and having a kid so early, really hurt my mother.

I felt as though she looked down on me and thought worse of me because I wasn’t like all the other kids who go to school. But after my father passed away, I realized how much my mother and siblings needed me there. I stopped attending high school Sophomore year to get a job at McDonalds and to continue working for my fathers company so I could provide for my family. My family wasn’t the most wealthy, but we weren’t poor. My mother would always talk about me as “The Man” of the house. She [worked] full time so she wasn’t home with all of the kids much.

Without a father figure, it is hard to really grow up, and I had to play that role for my younger brother, Juan who was 8 years old at the time. I am now working to get my GED, slowly, but it is in progress. It isn’t easy to go back to school after being away from it for so long. Work and family is still my #1 priority, but school is definitely a necessity in this day and age. I lost touch with all my friends, but it’s inevitable when you have a child at a young age, and work two jobs. Facebook helps, but I accepted it pretty easily knowing I had the love of my life and a family. What would you have done differently to prevent these effects? “Wear protection! But in all seriousness, I wish I would have completed high school so that it would be easier to support a family. There isn’t much you can do to prevent everything else that happened to me. I am glad I could learn from it rather than regress. I am now 22, working two jobs, have a wife, and a five and a half year old son who I provide for. School is extremely important and if you can’t make time for that opportunity given to you, then I don’t know what else there is to do.

I couldn’t prevent my fathers death, but I definitely should have gotten my GED sooner. It is hard to think of other ways I could have handled this of situation. ” Did dropping out of high school lead you to any crime? Gangs? No, never. My wife and I are very Christian and would never steal or commit crime. Maybe a traffic violation, but never any serious crimes. I have seen too many friends and family live a life of crime, and I have been to more funerals than I would ever like to. It definitely crossed my mind when I was still a teen, but I’m much happier knowing I never resorted to illegal means to make a living.

And no, never considered a gang because then it would have defeated my purpose of leaving school – my family.


  1. Unknown Author. (2010).
  2. The Importance of Education. Retrieved from http://education. laws. com/importance-of-education 1 National Center for Education Statistics (February 04, 2013).
  3. High School Dropout. Retrieved from http://vaperforms. virginia. gov/indicators/education/hsDropout. php 2 EPE Research Center. (2010).
  4. Graduation by the Numbers [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www. edweek. org/ew/articles/2010/06/10/34swanson. h29. html 3 SLJ Staff. (2008).
  5. Crime Linked to Dropout Rates, Report Says. Retrieved from http://www. schoollibraryjournal. com/article/CA6590701. html 4 Johnston, Cindy. (2011).
  6. Series Overview: The Cost Of Dropping Out. Retrieved from http://www. npr. org 5 Dianda, Marcella R. Ed. D. (November 2008).
  7. Preventing Future High School Dropouts: An Advocacy and Action Guide for NEA State and Local Affiliates. Washington, DC: National Education Association. 6 Dillon, Sam. (2009).
  8. Study Finds High Rate of Imprisonment Among Dropouts. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/2009/10/09/education/09dropout. html? _r=0 8

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High School Dropouts and Crime. (2017, Apr 12). Retrieved from

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