Most Parents Say Children Ill-Prepared for Life

From everything from physical, intellectual and spiritual development, the 1000 adults polled generally agreed that the nation’s youngsters do not receive “above average preparation.”
( [email protected] ) Oct 30, 2004 07:33 AM EDT

According to the latest survey released by the Barna Group, the vast majority of adults believe that America’s youths are not being prepared for life. From everything from physical, intellectual and spiritual development, the 1000 adults polled agreed that the nation’s youngsters do not receive “above average preparation.”

Less than one in five adults said they believe children under the age of 13 are being “superbly” or “pretty well prepared” for life emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually or physically. Fewer than one out of every twenty adults said they believe that America’s youngsters are receiving above average preparation in all five of those areas of life.

Of the categories, adults apparently felt youth intelligence was strongest.; 18 percent of adults said the children are intellectually stimulated. Physical development also drew similar responses, with 16% of adults saying children were superbly prepared. Meanwhile, in terms of emotional preparation, the adults said only 12% of children seemed prepared; Spirituality fared worse with adults seeing only 8% of the nation’s children as above average.

Barna then separated the groups into subgroups as a means to find patterns in the result.

According to Barna, “liberals and conservatives were both more concerned about the preparation children receive than were those who have a middle-of-the-road perspective,” they said. “Conservatives were notably less impressed with the preparation children get than were liberals in regard to moral and spiritual development. There was a 15-point gap separating the two segments in relation to moral development and a 22-point distinction related to spiritual preparation”

The research group also found that the “most consistent disparities in viewpoints related to people’s faith experience,” they wrote.

George Barna, head of the company, said he feels the parents must get help from social institutions to raise their children.

“Parents alone may be incapable of fully equipping their children in every area of life,” Barna explained, “but the common strategy of waiting for social institutions to provide whatever their children need is seriously flawed. The family is obliged to invest in the life preparation of their own children. Passing youngsters off to agencies ought to be a secondary option, not the primary means through which values, skills and perspectives are developed. And when parents lean on institutions for help in this process, unless parents hold those institutions accountable, the quality of life preparation that our nation’s children receive will continue to fail to meet even the most modest standards.”

Meanwhile, Barna also drew connections with the Oct. 26 report, with the 2004 Presidential Election: “The election has led millions of people to identify what they feel are the major issues facing the nation, and how each of the major candidates plans to address those issues. In that light, it’s intriguing that comparatively few adults have identified the plight of children as one of the key issues requiring greater attention,” noted the California-based researcher. “The major concerns listed by voters pertain to their own needs and dreams. What does it say about our society when we admit that our children are being set up for failure, but we do not incorporate that challenge among the most pressing issues facing the nation? Even if government policies and programs are not the ultimate solution, you would expect adults to integrate the needs of children into the dialogue regarding the future of our country.”