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Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education

Why Parenting Education is Needed in Connecticut Schools

1. A society in which parenting is a valued occupation undertaken only by prepared adults will help assure that children are well-nurtured, emotionally healthy and capable of reaching their full potential.

2. The years from birth to school age are the most important for developing the psychological stability of a person and the empathy and social, intellectual and emotional skills that a child needs to succeed in school and in life, but many parents do not know good ways of doing this because they have never been taught.

3. Although some children are getting some of the social, emotional, and intellectual guidance they need from trained teachers in preschools, only about 25% of Connecticut children are in preschool. Consequently, this vital education is not reaching most of the children in our state.

4. Even if we establish universal preschool in this state, children still will spend the majority of their time with their parents.

5. Early experiences impact a child's brain, impacting lifelong potential for learning, relationships and mental and physical health.

6. Empathy and nurturing skills can be taught.

7. Young people who have empathy and nurturing skills are less violent and less likely to become abusive parents.

8. Effective parenting lays the groundwork for better intellectual and mental health in future generations

9. Most people don't take a parenting course after they become parents (surveys range from 5 to about 30 % who do). How are they supposed to know all that research has found about the most effective ways of raising children from birth to adolescence if it is not taught in schools?

10. Although an elective child development course is taught in most high schools, only about 8 % of students in Connecticut take it, according to a survey done a few years ago by New Haven school psychologist Bob Margolies

11. Understanding the responsibilities of parenting encourages teens to postpone undertaking this demanding role.

12. Social and emotional literacy improve learning by creating caring classroom environments.

13. Statistics show a lot of parents do not know how to give their children the care and support they need in their early years to help them grow into upstanding, reliable, self-sufficient, and emotionally stable adults (statistics were obtained last year)

  • There are about 1.8 million reports of child abuse a year in this country; about 1300 children a year die from child abuse (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, 2004)
  • About 20% of American children suffer from a mental disorder in any given year. (National Institute of Mental Health figures, Oct. 2002)
    9 % of adolescents and 2 %of children (some as young as four) exhibit symptoms of depression.
  • The rate of suicide among 10-14-year-olds doubled between 1980 and l996. (Child Welfare League of America)
  • Almost half of high school students have had sexual intercourse. The number has doubled in 10 years
  • We have one of the highest teenage birth rates of any industrialized nation; Teen mothers are more likely to be unmarried (79%), to live in poverty and often do not have the maturity and knowledge to care for a child adequately. (Child Trends Research Brief, 2001)
  • 10 % of youths 12-17 were current drug users in 2001; in 2000 the rate was 9.7 %. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national survey)
  • One-third of America's children live in homes without their fathers; Two out of five of these have not seen their father in more than a year.
  • A 25-year study found that young men who grew up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to be arrested and imprisoned. Children from fatherless homes also have higher rates of teen suicide, substance abuse and neglect and running away from home. (Preparing Tomorrow's Parents Today, Guide for Educators and Advocates, 2001). Every young man in our country needs to be taught this and taught that his responsibilities if he fathers a child include much more than financial support of the child.

14. A parenting education program in schools that reaches all children is the only way we can reach all potential parents and teach them such vital things as:

  • Parenting requires love, trust, and respect for children, and a commitment to consistency. A sense of humor also helps.
  • The responsibilities of parenthood
  • How to keep children safe (eg. knowing that shaking a baby can cause brain damage and death; Childproofing a house; the danger of leaving a baby alone in a tub, etc)·
  • The importance of nurturing, loving care in infancy, cuddling babies, responding promptly and adequately to their needs; research shows lack of this care can cause severe emotional problems and even sociopathic behavior in childhood and later life
  • Good ways of guiding children's behavior other than spanking (time outs; withdrawal of privileges; distraction for 2-3 year-olds; delayed gratification; rewards for good behavior; natural consequences; logical consequences, etc.)
  • Results of child abuse, including emotional abuse: what it is and why it occurs and how it can damage children
  • How to communicate effectively with children of different ages
  • Stages of child development; what a child can and can't be expected to do at different ages
  • The importance of fathers to a child's well-being, success and sense of identity
  • The impact of parental divorce and separation on children; how to handle these situations to minimize the impact on the child
  • How and when to teach a child such key social and emotion skills as: responsibility; respect; empathy; good manners; handling his emotions; self control, etc.

The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education, formerly the Connecticut Coalition for Parenting Education is comprised of approximately 40 people and organizations dedicated to bringing education in child safety, child development and parenting skills to all Connecticut students sometime before they graduate from high school. Members include Yale psychology professor Edward Zigler, who helped launch Head Start, Yale child psychiatrists Kyle Pruett and James Comer, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Mental Health Association of Connecticut; the Connecticut Child Advocate, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, parents, and other state residents.

Nine years of coalition experience with the legislature and Commissioners of Education indicate the need for a groundswell of public support to bring about action. For more information and to get involved, contact Joan Barbuto, Coordinator of the Coalition, at
joanbstone@aol.com or 203/269-1946.

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