ERIC Number: ED476958
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
How Children Are Doing: The Mismatch between Public Perception and Statistical Reality. Child Trends Research Brief.
Guzman, Lina; Lippman, Laura; Moore, Kristin Anderson; O'Hare, William
Given the increase in statistical information on the well-being of America's children during the past decade, Child Trends sought to find out how well public perception matches official statistics on the characteristics and well being of America's children. Three public opinion polls were designed to ascertain the public's understanding of the current circumstances of and trends in the well-being of American children. Responses were then compared to the best available data to assess the accuracy of the public's perceptions. The poll results suggest that large segments of the public do not hold accurate perceptions, and that the public is unaware of major trends in child well-being. Overall, the findings indicate that most Americans think that children and youth are worse off than they actually are, and are either unaware of or are discounting progress made during the last decade. In fact, most Americans think that things are getting worse for children and youth, even when notable improvements have occurred. For example, despite considerable publicity about the decline in the welfare rolls, 74 percent of the public believes that the number of children on welfare has increased or stayed the same since the passage of the 1996 federal welfare law. Similarly, although the teen crime rate is at its lowest level in more than 25 years, 91 percent of the public believes that the percentage of teens who commit violent crime has increased or stayed the same over the past 10 years. The polls also document that a large segment of Americans lack an awareness of many basic demographic and economic characteristics of America's children, although they tend to be more informed in these areas than about trends in and levels of child well-being. It was noted that a misinformed public may make it more difficult to develop and support effective policies and programs that promote child well-being.(Author/HTH)
Descriptors: Access to Information, Children, Demography, Knowledge Level, Public Opinion, Social Indicators, Statistical Data, Well Being
Child Trends, Inc., 4301 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20008. Tel: 202-572-6000; Fax: 202-362-5533; Web site: http://www.childtrends.org. For full text: http://www.childtrends.org/PDF/PublicPerceptionsRB.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL.; David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA.; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA.
Authoring Institution: Child Trends, Inc., Washington, DC.