Posted by Kathleen Bowers | Posted in Advocacy, Children's Need, National news, Parent Experiences, Student Experiences, Teacher Experiences, Uncategorized, Viewpoints | Posted on 13-04-2012
Today’s kids are floundering in many different aspects of their lives according to the Search Institute, an organization studying children’s developmental needs and support systems throughout the world.
After surveying more than three million children across 60+ countries, including a 2010 survey of 89,866 U.S. sixth-to-twelfth graders, the Search Institute reports that young people are not experiencing nearly enough of the 40 developmental assets they have identified as necessary for healthy development.
The Institute’s most recent report, A Fragile Foundation, contains the following:
“On the average, the 89,366 surveyed adolescents report experiencing only 20 of the 40 developmental assets. … More than one third (37 percent) report being involved in two or more of the ten dangerous patterns of high-risk behavior that we studied.”
The researchers further discovered that, regardless of gender, cultural background, town size, or geographical location, today’s young people typically:
- Receive too little support through sustained and positive intergenerational relationships;
- Lack opportunities for leadership and involvement;
- Disengage from youth-serving programs in the community;
- Experience inconsistent or unarticulated boundaries and expectations;
- Feel disconnected from and unvalued by their community, and
- Miss out on the formation of social competencies and positive values.
As long as these patterns continue, we will see too many young people who are susceptible to risky behaviors and negative pressure, drawn to undesirable sources of belonging (e.g., gangs), and ill-equipped to become the next generation of parents, workers, leaders, and citizens.
The great benefit of the Search Institute model is that it provides information on how the situations for children can be improved through specific kinds of support from families, peers, school, and community can foster developmental assets in children.
Following the line of reasoning outlined in the report, just a few of the many things that might help turn the tide include:
- Reducing children’s unstructured, unsupervised time home alone.
- Reducing TV overexposure (3+ hours per day).
- A caring school climate (experienced by only 35%).
- Positive family communications (experienced by only 32%).
The Search Institute does not directly measure poverty, although it acknowledges poverty as one of the most pervasive deficits in young people’s lives. There is extensive research to show that, statistically, poverty interferes with development, places children at greater risk of harmful behavior, and limits their options for the future.