Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids

By Sharna Olfman | Go to book overview

2
Why Parenting Matters

LAURA E. BERK

Numerous signs indicate that the quality of parenting in the United States has eroded. America's population of poverty-stricken children and youths—at 16 percent, among the largest in the industrialized world1—suffers in manifold ways from a pile-up of stresses that undermine parenting, including family turmoil and instability, chaotic households, and run-down, violent neighborhoods devoid of social supports.2 But many American children in families with adequate to plentiful incomes are experiencing an increasing array of problems that disrupt their chances for a happy, healthy, successful adult life.


INDICATORS OF ERODED PARENTING QUALITY
IN AMERICA

Mediocre Academic Achievement

In worldwide comparisons of academic achievement, American students typically score no better than the international average, and often below it3—a disappointing picture confirmed by The Nation's Report Card, a biannual national assessment of educational progress. In the most recent assessment, 37 percent of fourth graders scored below the [basic level] in reading, and 31 percent did so in math. In each domain, less than one third had reached or exceeded a

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Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I - Children's Irreducible Needs 1
  • 1: The Natural History of Children 3
  • 2: Why Parenting Matters 19
  • Part II - How American Culture is Failing Our Kids 55
  • 3: The War Against Parents 57
  • 4: The Impact of Media Violence on Developing Minds and Hearts 89
  • 5: The Commercialization of Childhood 107
  • 6: Big Food, Big Money, Big Children 123
  • 7: So Sexy, So Soon 137
  • 8: Techno-Environmental Assaults on Childhood in America 155
  • 9: [No Child Left] 185
  • 10: Where Do the Children Play? 203
  • Index 217
  • About the Editor and the Contributors 223
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