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Remarks at the Closing of Session I of the Family Re-Union IV Conference in Nashville

July 10, 1995

I don't want to end on a downer, but I just want to ask you all to think about the implications of what we are discussing here. And I wish we had time for all the audience to ask their questions and make their comments, but let me just point this out.

Almost every major city in America has had a decline in the crime rate in the last 3 or 4 years, but the rate of random violence among very young people is still going up, notwithstanding the decline in the crime rate. That is just one example. After years of making progress on reducing drug use, the rate of apparently random drug use across racial and income lines among quite young people is now going back up again. The rate of perceived risk or the pointlessness of not doing it seems to be going down.

The ultimate answer may be in programs like the "I Have A Future" program and all these one-on-one programs for all these children. But I would ask you just to remember what one of our psychologists said, which is that most of our young people learn about violence or are affected by it between the ages of 2 and 8. Most of them learn—deal with sex and gender stereotypes between 8 and whenever.

It may be that people between 8 and whenever are more subject to argument at least or counter information or the kind of publicity or you name it on these other issues we can put out. So let's focus at least on the violence. I see no alternative to solving this problem than to reduce the aggregate amount of violence to which these children are subject. And we're going to have to have some help from the media to get that done. I just don't see any alternative to that.

The V-chip is something we ought to do, but if we're going to raise positive role models we also have to reduce the aggregate amount of violence. We must find a systematic way to do it. And in our country, with the first amendment and other things being the way they are, we're going to have to have some voluntary initiatives and some disciplined support from the media in America to get it done.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. in Polk Theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Closing of Session I of the Family Re-Union IV Conference in Nashville Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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