Thursday, November 5, 2009

FAMILY MATTERS: Stunning Stats about Young People in America

Surprising and disturbing news was circulating yesterday about the health and well-being of young people in America.

U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, backed by some of our country's top military brass, held a news conference at the National Press Club last Thursday indicating that young adults in America are so unfit (physically or otherwise) that only 25 percent of them would be eligible today for the armed services of our country. In other words, a full 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 could not qualify for the military due to excessive weight, inability to pass entrance exams, lack of a high school degree, or existence of a criminal record.

Early childhood education was put forth as the best solution, with 44 percent higher rates of graduation and fewer arrests for violent crimes cited in those children enrolled in quality programs. I don't challenge these numbers, nor am I against early childhood education for children who require that assistance, but the roots of our problem need to be addressed as well.

This entire situation looks to me like a clear-cut case of the disintegration of the American family rearing its ugly head, again. And again. And again. Maybe our government needs to spend less time trying to find new and improved band aids to slap on the various symptoms of societal breakdown and start supporting the health and well-being of the basic unit that has traditionally reinforced and sustained the very structure of our nation. Yes, folks––that would be the family––in all its original, too-rapidly-fading glory. Not one of the problems highlighted by Duncan and crew can be resolved without active, involved parents who demand more from their schools, expect more from their children, and are willing to back both of these up with their own, concerted efforts.

Let's face it, some of the things that are going on here defy explanation. With so many of our kids overweight, for intance, why on earth are we dropping physical education programs in our schools? And isn't it a known fact that involvement in the Arts tames the savage beast, so to speak? Yet art programs are being thrown out the door like yesterday's garbage, and music education is pretty much a thing of the past. A growing majority of after-school enrichment programs have gone by the wayside as well. No wonder so many kids are involved in "Lord of the Flies" mentality and behavior. Left to their own devices, they tend to run off the tracks. That's why they have parents. Or at least, they used to have them.

Too many parents today are either absent, disempowered, disengaged, or ineffective. Expecting a government that can't even run its postal service to raise our children is nonsensical. Yet parents are abdicating responsibility hand over fist, persuading themselves that they can raise healthy, well-adjusted children while directing the bulk of their energies elsewhere.

Ain't gonna happen. And General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees that as "a matter of national security." I would concur, but with the caveat that the threat to our country is not only military. It's fundamental. And spiritual.

And our future depends on whether and how we address that.


jen said...

Thank you. I've felt this same way--can't see the forest for the trees.
Isn't it obvious that having no parent in the home when kids are there lends to an environment where kids become lazy, fat, indulged, and bored?
Now, more than ever, our world needs hands-on parenting. Now, more than ever, our world needs kids who have been taught, not just brought into the world and left to fend for themselves.
Hmmm. Now, more than ever, our world needs the "Proclamation to the World" on the family. Are we led by prophets? Seers? You bet.
How can we work that document into federal legislation without violating the separation of church and state?

Mach Momma said...

It's true. Very good post. Society is most defiantly on the downhill slide. It's actually really heart breaking.
As parents, sometimes we neglect what matter most for the things that matter least. I have to a take daily inventory myself.
But the points you made I feel are from selfishness and neglect, not from trying to be supermom so much and with that said I am going to get off the computer and go blow bubbles with my babies!

Karen said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more, I am sad to see how parents are made fun of, or belittled in our media.

Amy said...

It makes me so sad when I see families not interacting, parents ignoring their children, etc. I once worked with a woman who would still send her children to day care on her days off. She just couldn't handle the attention they craved. So she would get rid of them. It broke my heart. Amen is all I can say. Amen to that.

Carolyn said...

Well said. I especially enjoyed listening to Jack while I read.

I think you need a little Griffin on the playlist though. :)

For once today I feel like I'm doing a good job as a parent.

KC Mom said...

I agree's all about getting back to FAMILY.
I think the other problem will be that most parents won't take control of the situation and when they find out how unhealthy their own kids are they will blame the government and want them to fix it...and there we have it...more government control over us.
It's a vicious cycle that could stop if parents would just start taking responsibility.

karen said...

Very well put. In my job I see women with beautiful children always putting their careers first. So sad that our world places such importance on things that are not important at all. I wonder first of all why they bother to have children, and then, how they're going to feel when they realize all the time they wasted on work, could have been spent forging valuable relationships with their little ones. And now that time is lost forever.

Snarky Belle said...

Amen Sista Sue!!!

Em said...

NCLB. that's why phys edu courses were dropped. along with art and music. and yet...we're still leaving them all behind!!!

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