Denzel Washington: Pay attention to the children in crisis

I typically try to ignore when celebrities discuss politics, but I felt that this letter written by Denzel Washington is a bit more heartfelt than the typical “vote for the person I like because…” kind of crap that comes from Hollywood.

With the political season in full swing, much is at stake for America. The economy is in a downward spiral. We have an energy crisis. Our jobless rate is on the rise.

These are the subjects that generate headlines and much debate among the candidates.

But there is an underlying problem that we as a nation have not addressed, a situation that should concern any American with an eye on the future, regardless of party affiliation. It is the crisis affecting our children:

• Nearly 30 percent of this year’s freshman class will drop out of high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That number jumps to 40 percent in some urban areas.

• The obesity rate for our kids has gone up by as much as 300 percent since 1980, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, triggering a host of health-related problems, from diabetes to heart disease.

• Young people account for more than 20 percent of violent crimes in the United States, according to statistics cited by Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy. Violent juvenile crime peaks between 3 and 4 p.m., at the end of the school day.

These facts are grim enough. Factor in persistent patterns of poverty, gang activity, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, and you have a generation of Americans that will be unprepared – indeed, unable – to meet the challenges posed by a complex world.

The rest of the letter written by Denzel can be found on CNN.