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Report Points to Positive Impact of Parent Involvement

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The impact of parents' involvement in the lives of their children registered markedly in the Foundation for Child Development's annual child well-being index released on Dec. 18.

According to the New York City-based group, overall child well-being is up more than 5 percent both from 2001 and the index's beginning a generation ago, in 1975, wrote Education Week's Sarah D. Sparks on her Inside School Research blog.

It's an interesting development, given the reduced economic circumstances in which many children live. "Parents are less likely to be securely employed than they were in 2001, when 79 percent of children were living in a household with at least one parent employed full time. By 2011, that had dropped to 71 percent," the report states.

Indications of better outcomes from the report:

  • The rate of teens engaging in risky behavior—like binge drinking, smoking cigarettes and having babies—has declined.

  • Violent crime is down, in terms of both teens as victims and as perpetrators.

  • Bachelor's degrees are on the rise, as more young people are getting a bachelor's degree by the age of 29.

Sparks quotes Kenneth C. Land, a sociology professor at the Duke Population Research Institute in Durham, N.C., as explaining that the improvements are driven primarily by the children themselves. This resilience comes from what Land calls a "shadow beneath our indicators," namely that since the 1990s, "Parents got a lot more active in the lives of their children."

Further, Land told Sparks: "Mommy is calling son or daughter more. There's a lot more close monitoring. It's true that upper- and middle-class parents who are more resourceful are better able to monitor their kids, but an implication of what we've seen in the past 10-12 years is, it's not confined to upper-class levels. Even parents of more down economic status are monitoring their children more and being more involved."

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