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Sheltering kids from society key parental concern in poll

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Many parents today are more concerned with protecting their children from negative societal influences than about paying the bills or having enough family time together.

“We found that a large majority of parents say American society is an inhospitable climate for raising children, where parents can never let down their guard in the face of popular culture, drugs and crime,” reported Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization that conducted a recent survey of American parents.

One survey question asked parents to name their greatest challenge from a list of three: protecting children from negative social influences, finding enough family time together or keeping up with household finances. Forty-seven percent said they were most concerned about shielding their children from negative societal influences, which included drugs and alcohol, someone seeking to harm their children, anti-social peer groups and media messages.

In addition to the societal pressures working against their children, parents said they don’t believe they are doing a good job teaching their children essential values.

Seventy-six percent of parents believe their job of raising children is “a lot harder” than what their parents faced, said the survey, called “A Lot Easier Said Than Done.”

Because of that feeling, parents now more than ever seem to have a “special urgency and practical relevance to making sure their children attain crucial character traits — such as independence, self-control, honesty and politeness — because having them can help mitigate the harmful messages and negative social influences that so many kids are exposed to these days,” according to the Public Agenda study.

Though they realize the special urgency for teaching their children crucial character traits, many parents don’t consider themselves successful in doing so. According to the survey, 74 percent said independence is an essential value, but only 38 percent said they have conveyed it. Eighty-three percent said it is essential for children to have self-control and self-discipline, but only 34 percent said they have succeeded in teaching it. Ninety-one percent said it is essential to teach their children to be honest while only 55 percent claimed to have done so. And 84 percent said it is essential that their children be courteous and polite while 62 percent said they have succeeded.

The previous generation of parents went through hardships and world wars, “but we did not feel as if our kids were surrounded by hazards of every kind,” Deborah Wadsworth, president of Public Agenda, told the Washington Times Oct. 31. “We felt there were allies — institutional allies — and the real world reinforced the values that we wanted to teach our kids.

“My sense from this study, and it’s really painful, is that parents just feel absolutely abandoned. They feel as if they are being sabotaged at every turn.”

The national Public Agenda survey of 1,607 parents of children ages 5 to 17 was supplemented with opinions from 12 focus groups around the country. State Farm Insurance Companies funded the survey along with the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of 40 national advertisers committed to pro-family programming.

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  • Erin Curry