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Poll Shows Low Approval Rating for U.S. Kids, Parents

Perhaps it's natural for adults to be critical of the younger generation, but a new poll renders a harsh judgment of today's children and their parents.
The poll, released by the group Public Agenda, shows that only 37% of adults believes that today's children will make the U.S. a better place when they become grownups. And the first words that come to mind when adults think about current 5-to-12 year-olds are "lacking discipline" followed by "spoiled."

The main culprit, according to the survey, is parents. A majority of those polled say couples break up marriages too easily instead of trying to stay together for the kids' stake; a majority also says that parents who fail to discipline their children are very common.

"Americans are frightened for - and in some cases frightened of our children - and fault parents for the problems they see," says Public Agenda executive director Deborah Wadsworth. "The public does acknowledge how difficult it is to be a parent in today's world, but is riveted by one goals: the necessity of teaching all children the values of integrity, ethical behavior, concern for others, respect, civility, compassion and responsibility."

The polls shows that adults in general are sympathetic to the problems modern parents face; about 70% of those questioned say substance abuse and violence on TV and in movies are major impediments to child-rearing. The poll also shows that such things as improving public schools and support for after-school programs would help parents do their job properly.

But, in the end, the blame falls squarely on moms and dads. About 63% say it's common for parents to have kids before they're ready, and 50% say it's common for parents to equate buying something for kids with caring for them. Only 19% of those polled say it's common for parents to be good role models and teach kids right from wrong.

The poll of 2,000 adults age 18 and older was conducted by Public Agenda last December for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Advertising Council. "What is key is Americans don't want to give up on kids and believe in programs that will develop young people's character," says Advertising Council president Ruth Wooden. "Our efforts will focus on mobilizing Americans to volunteer in ways that will address their concerns and meet the needs of our nation's youth."  

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