That's life

Teens' jobs may not pay off

Having a part-time job may be good for some teens, but not for others, according to research at the University of South Carolina. In a study of 4,000 local teens, experts found that students who work 15 or more hours per week were more likely to engage in risky behaviors (substance abuse, binge drinking, smoking, and unprotected sex) than teens who work fewer hours.

Robert Valois, the USC professor who conducted the study, says parents should pay attention and know when teens' working hours are approaching the 15-hour weekly limit.

"There's a lot of good that can come from work experience," Dr. Valois says. "Trouble happens when the number of work hours encroaches on school, homework, sleep, exercise, time with family, and social activities."

Students who want to develop leadership skills may learn more from internship and service activities than from paying jobs, Valois says. Fifty-one percent of working youths hold retail jobs, many in fast-food restaurants, according to US labor statistics. These positions don't always have the most desirable working environments and typically have high worker turnover.

Adoption, by the numbers

Five million people in the US are adopted, and 65 million have a personal connection to adoption. Adoptive Families Magazine also gives these figures:

• Two percent of all children in the US are adopted.

• More infants born in the US are adopted by American families each year than are foreign-born children.

• Adoption is no more expensive, on average, than giving birth, once a $10,000 federal tax credit and employer benefits are factored in.

• A majority of respondents to a recent poll of Adoptive Families Magazine completed both domestic and international adoptions in less than a year.

Baby boomers pedal right along

Bicycle manufacturers continue to keep a close eye on baby boomers, who dominate consumer spending on new bikes, as they have for 30 years, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. The latest study of the US adult bicycle market reveals:

• About 24.6 million adults own a bicycle they bought new.

• "Enthusiast" riders, who ride and spend more than other segments, tripled in number during the 1990s.

• Enthusiasts recommend a bike brand to six people in an average year, and more than three follow their advice.

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