LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s Tough Being a Hoosier

While we shake our heads at the killing rate of teens in Indianapolis, I urge Hoosiers everywhere to look at the facts. Sunrise on Nov. 3rd was 8:15 a.m.. Schools in Marion County started as early as 7:10 a.m.. Buses began picking up before 6 a.m.. Now, factor in the 2012 report stating 50,000 Hoosier students are chronically absent each year, most due to truancy. When any teen has to get out of bed more than 2 hours before sunrise, it’s easy to understand Indiana’s truancy rate. Skipping school results in falling behind and dropping out. An unemployable youth with no money and time on his hands is a formula for crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends school for teens shouldn’t start before 9:30 in Indiana (8:30 for the rest of the US) because teens’ biorhythms don’t allow them to function well in morning darkness. Could normal academic pressures placed on teens, combined with an adverse sunlight schedule, explain why Hoosier teens have the second highest suicide attempt rate in the US? It’s tough being a teen in Indiana.

How are adult Hoosiers doing? We current rank 7th most obese and least physical fit and 8th most tired in the US. Isn’t it time our legislators begin adding up the facts and recognize the common link – our unnatural sunlight schedule.

— Susannah Dillon, Southern Indiana

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