The Need For Better Choices
In a recent Gallup poll, over 75% of Americans indicated they believe that moral values and proper personal conduct are on the decline in America. They cited poor parenting, questionable content on television, influential information on the internet, and an increasingly open attitude by young people toward sex and drugs to be some of the reasons.
Outlined below are recaps of five “situations" in America that we are facing today. Clearly, we need to stop and assess the quality of the choices we are making. More importantly, we need to start making better choices as we live our lives each day.
Academic Performance in America is Declining
It is a recognized fact that the academic performance of American students is in decline.
In spite of almost tripling the average expenditures per student since 1970 (from $4,552 to over $13,187), the U.S. has continued to fall relative to other countries when achievement levels are compared. After many years of being near the top, the most recent Program for International Student Assessment Report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year olds in 34 countries, ranked the United States 14th in reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.
Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States, 25% of high school students fail to graduate on time and the U.S., which used to have some of the highest graduation rates of any developed country, now ranks 22nd out of 27 countries.
Our Schools - Less Safe for our Children
Bullying Statistics reports that “bullying is a crime that is not going anywhere soon” and points out that there are about 160,000 students who miss school each day out of fear of being bullied. They report that about 2.7 million students experience bullying at school each year.
On a more serious note, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that during the 2019-20 school year, 85% of public schools recorded one or more incidents of violence, theft or other incidents resulting in over 1.9 million “school crimes.”
According to a study released by Brown University’s Alpert Medical School…children and teenagers who are assaulted at school account for nearly 90,000 emergency-room visits in the United States each year.
Drugs/Alcohol - Usage by Students is Increasing
More than 24.6 million Americans age 12 and older use illegal drugs, according to the government’s Survey on Drug Use and Health.
According to another study of 47,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students performed by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use has increased to over 36% in this group. In addition, the report revealed that 47% of 12th graders use alcohol and almost 10% of them reported non-medical use of either Vicodin or OxyContin.
With marijuana now being made legal in more and more states, it is likely that teenage use will rise even more. Therefore, teenagers and parents alike will need to develop even better understandings of the short and long range problems involved if they want to make "good choices" and prevent these difficulties in their life.
We are Getting Fatter...and Less Healthy
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, overweight and obese children are significant public health problems in the U.S. and the number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980.
Being overweight during childhood increases the risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, respiratory ailments, depression and type 2 diabetes as a youth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over two thirds of the U.S. population is either obese (35%) or overweight (42%). Clearly, this is an area where "poor choices" are the primary reason why these conditions exist.
We Need to Exercise More
Harvard Medical School reports that only 18% of us meet the weekly recommendations for cardiovascular activity. And, barely 5% of those interviewed indicated that they engaged in vigorous activities like swimming, running, or strength training.
A 22-year study by the Stanford University School of Medicine revealed a strong correlation between the rise in obesity and a striking drop in the amount of time that Americans spend exercising. During the period from 1988 to 2021, researchers found that the percentage of women doing no exercise rose from 19% to 52% and men "doing nothing" rose from 11% to 43%. During this same time, obesity increased from 25% to 35% in women and from 20% to 35% in men.
Exercise is the closest thing we have to “a magic bullet” against heart disease and stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, some types of cancer, depression, and a host of other ailments. The disconnect between the amount of physical activity we do and what we should do is unfortunate.
We could have listed many other examples, but as these indicate, many of us need to improve our choices in some area of our lives. The logic is simple...improve the quality of your choices and you will improve the quality of your life.
The objective of The Good Choice Library is to help people become more aware of the need for better choices. In so doing, we want to motivate more of us to start making better choices as we go about our lives each day.