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Student leaders tackle world's tough issues -- head on

By a staff writerof The Christian Science Monitor / December 29, 1980



A recent poll of 24,000 students conducted by the publication "Who's Who Among American High School Students" suggests some strong mandates for the Reagan administration, while at the same time maintaining traditional values.

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The young people are recommended for listing in this "Who's Who" by their high school principals or guidance counselors and national youth organizations. Criteria for recognition are leadership and achievement in academics, school activities, community service or athletics, and high performance in national scholarship or award contests.

Some of the findings of the survey:

A tax limitation proposal, such as Propositions 13 in California and 2 1/2 in Massachusetts, was favored by 74 percent of those questioned.

Among the top priorities of the nation's future leaders were: fighting inflation (88 percent), release of the hostages in Iran (86 percent), reduced unemployment (70 percent), draft registration (67 percent), use of nuclear power as an energy source (61 percent), a balanced budget (54 percent).

For the first time in the 11-year history of the survey, a majority (53 percent) opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Female students (53.7 percent) were more opposed to the ERA than males (51.5 percent).

During the Vietnam war, only 4 percent of the teens surveyed felt that the US should supply military aid to that Southeast Asian country. Today, 63 percent would send aid or military advisers to a country in which a communist nation was lending support to one of the factions.

Eight out of ten "Who's Who" high schoolers belong to an active church an 71 percent attend services regularly. Nearly half don't drink and 88 percent have never smoked cigarettes. Some 94 percent have never used drugs, including marijuana. More than three-fourths have never had sexual intercourse. More than 45 percent opposed sex before marriage regardless of the circumstances.

Each year for the past 11, the publication has chronicled attitudes and opinions of leading high school juniors and seniors across the country. Seventy-five percent of the survey group are 17 years old, and 74 percent live in suburban or rural communities.