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 SECAUCUS, N.J., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- If you were president, would you send the U.S. military into Bosnia?
 No, said a majority of the country's brightest high school students, who were polled during the Sixth Annual Panasonic Academic Challenge held earlier this summer at Florida's Contemporary Hotel. Among the other results: a majority of the students supported the distribution of condoms in high schools to help stem the spread of AIDS, but opposed the distribution of clean hypodermic needles to drug addicts.
 The poll was taken among 161 students representing high schools from 39 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories in a highly academic competition that included questions in mathematics, science, English, social studies, the fine arts, foreign language and computer science.
 "These students are a cross section of our future scientists, legislators, educators, engineers, doctors, lawyers and artists. They will shape America well into the next century," said Bill Rooney, assistant general manager of Panasonic External Affairs. "If these survey results are any indication, the future appears to be bright."
 Fifty-five percent of the students said the U.S. should stay out of Bosnia militarily, with 28 percent supporting the use of force there. An overwhelming 68 percent said it's not the United States' place to act as global peacekeeper, with 75 percent of those polled saying the United Nations should assume that role.
 As one means of dealing with the AIDS crisis, 63 percent of the students said condoms should be distributed in high schools -- though only 36 percent of the respondents supported distribution in junior high. Fifty-two percent said they're opposed to giving clean needles to I.V. drug users.
 Based on the survey results, AIDS is a defeatable threat. Fifty-six percent of the students, aged 16-18, male and female, believe a cure for the disease will be found in their lifetime, with just 27 percent not expecting to see a cure. In any case, the spectre of AIDS has not affected their dating habits, with 74 percent of the respondents saying they are maintaining the status quo.
 In other health-related issues, 54 percent of the students polled would support a federally funded national health care plan, even if it meant raising taxes. Of them, 81 percent said such a plan should include mental and dental health as well.
 On the hotly debated question of controlling drug use, a quarter of the students favored legalizing or decriminalizing illicit drugs, while 32 percent would impose harsher penalties on drug users and dealers Twenty-two percent felt more educational programs is the solution.
 Although most of the students polled aren't yet eligible to vote, they did express strong opinions on virtually every aspect of the American political scene.
 When asked how they feel about President Clinton's performance to date, 44 percent said they disapproved, 31 percent approved and 25 percent were
undecided or had no opinion. Where Mrs. Clinton is concerned, 53 percent of the students said the First Lady should have an official role insetting policy, while 36 percent disagreed. Though, as one student added, "She will have a role, official or unofficial, regardless."
 Among the other findings:
 -- Agreeing with the president, 62 percent said the federal government should assume the responsibility of stimulating national economic growth; 30 percent said no.
 -- Forty-five percent said scientists should not attempt to clone extinct species, as in Jurassic Park, if they had the ability to do so; 39 percent said they should. And 49 percent said the government should have some control over genetic engineering; 43 percent disagreed.
 -- On the issue of jobs vs. environment, raised recently in a controversy in the Pacific Northwest over protection of the Spotted Owl, 58 percent said they favored a balanced approach, while 26 percent said they favored protecting the environment. Thirteen percent supported jobs over environment.
 -- Sixty-six percent said federal regulatory groups such as the FCC should not have the authority to regulate the content of movies, television and records, with 22 percent dissenting.
 -- Sixty percent believe the government should not be able to regulate the works of subsidized artists, even if federal money is supporting them. Thirty-two percent said if the government is supporting the arts, it should have the right to regulate content.
 -- Given the United States' role in the global arena, 44 percent said Japanese is the most important foreign language Americans should learn, followed by Spanish, German and Russian. Several students suggested all Americans start by learning English.
 Finally, 82 percent of the students polled said they know how to program their VCRs. However, as stated above, these are America's brightest students.
 -0- 8/20/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Complete survey results are available by calling any of the contacts below./
 /CONTACT: William Pritchard, 201-348-7182, Mark Johnson, 201-348-7130, or Gary Frisch, 201-392-4571, all of Panasonic/

CO: Panasonic Company ST: New Jersey IN: SU:

SM-TS -- NY020 -- 4697 08/20/93 11:36 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 20, 1993

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