Our youth’s values appear to be awry, and the messages that we’re unintentionally sending as adults may be at the heart of the problem.
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According to our recent national survey, a large majority of youth across a wide spectrum of races, cultures, and classes appear to value aspects of personal success—achievement and happiness—over concern for others. At the root of this problem may be a rhetoric/reality gap, a gap between what parents say are their top priorities and the real messages they convey in their behavior day to day.
When children do not prioritize caring and fairness in relation to their self-concerns—and when they view their peers as even less likely to prioritize these values— there is a lower bar for many forms of harmful behavior, including cruelty, disrespect, dishonesty, and cheating.
The good news is that we found substantial evidence that caring and fairness still count among kids—and, according to other sources, among adults.
The solution is straightforward, if we're all willing to work together.