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MUST REAR BOYS BETTER, NAACP PANEL CONCLUDES

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Grim statistics point to a crisis for the nation's black men, and the black community must do a better job nurturing and educating its boy children, a panel concluded at the NAACP convention.

Almost one in four black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail, on parole or on probation, according to a recent study by the non-profit Sentencing Project. The same study found that fewer young blacks attend college than are in the criminal justice system.Black men in inner city neighborhoods are less likely to reach 65 than men in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest nations. Violence is the leading cause of death for blacks aged 15 to 25.

"If we cannot turn these numbers around, they threaten the very existence of this race," said Beverly Cole, director of education and health for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The panel highlighted the first day of activities by the 3,000 delegates to the convention, which ends Thursday. In an opening ceremony, actress Esther Rolle became the first woman to be presented with the NAACP's annual Civil Rights Leadership Award.