Denzel Washington has urged his fellow Americans not to overlook youth concerns as they focus on the upcoming presidential elections, environmental and economic issues facing the nation.
In a commentary piece the actor has written for news website CNN.com, Washington - a national spokesman for the Boys + Girls Clubs of America - insists America's leaders need to pay attention to the crisis affecting children.
He writes, "There is an underlying problem that we, as a nation, have not addressed, a situation that should concern any American with an eye on the future, regardless of party affiliation. It is the crisis affecting our children."
The Oscar winner goes on to state that almost 30 per cent of this year's new high school class will drop out before completing their education, while childhood obesity has risen by 300 per cent since 1980.
He also adds, "Young people account for more than 20 per cent of violent crimes in the United States, according to statistics cited by Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy. Violent juvenile crime peaks between 3 and 4pm, at the end of the school day.
"These facts are grim enough. Factor in persistent patterns of poverty, gang activity, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, and you have a generation of Americans that will be unprepared - indeed, unable - to meet the challenges posed by a complex world.
"As citizens, we shouldn't simply sit back and hope that politicians stand up to the test. We can participate in the political process, advocating for policies that will benefit the health, education and well-being of young Americans, because we must do a better job of preparing our youth to lead."