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American Kids' Moral I.Q. Plunges
10 Alarming Signs Reveal A Crisis of Character and Show
by Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing

MORAL IQ TIP: Refrain from always giving tangible rewards for your child’s efforts. Help her develop her own internal reward system in which she acknowledges herself for a job well done.

1. Crime. Every 17 seconds in the U.S. a child is arrested; every 7 minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime. US kids are 10 times more likely to commit murder than comparably aged youths in Canada. CDF

2. Suicide. Adolescent suicide has increased 400% in 30 years. The United States has the highest youth homicide and suicide rates among the 26 wealthiest nations in the world. American Academy of Pediatrics

3. Peer Cruelty and Bullying. 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by peers. NEA The National School Safety Center calls bullying "the most enduring and underrated problem in American schools."

4. Behavior Problems. Hyperactivity and attention deficits have increased 700% in two decades. One in 30 youngsters 5 to 19 years old is using Ritalin. AMA. Adolescent depression has increased 1000% in 40 years.

5. Violence. 24% of high schoolers say they took a weapon to school at least once in the past year. 73% of 10-to 18-year-olds hit someone during the year because they were angry. Josephson Institute of Ethics

6. Stealing. In 10 years juvenile theft has increased 22%. FBI Almost half of middle and high schoolers admitted stealing from a store during the year; 25% said they did so at least twice. Josephson Institute of Ethics

7. Cheating.
Since 1969, high schoolers test cheating test increased from 34% to 68 %. A U.S. News & World Report survey found 84%of college students believe they need to cheat to get ahead in the world.

8. Lying. 92% of high school students lied to their parents in past year; more than one in four said they would lie to get a job. Josephson Institute of Ethics

9. Underage Drinking. One out of five fifth-graders has been drunk; two-thirds of eighth graders have used alcohol. American Academy of Pediatrics

10. Premature Sexual Activity. Three million teenagers-about one in four of those sexually active-acquire a sexually transmitted disease every year. Teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries. Alan Guttmacher Institute.

The signs point to a clear crisis of character in today's youth. Building Moral Intelligence by Dr. Michele Borba (John Wiley & Sons, 2001) provides a step-by-step plan for saving the moral destinies of our children and teens by teaching them to behave in a morally good way. And we haven't a moment to lose.

Dr. Michele Borba is an educational consultant and author who has conducted parent and teacher seminars to over half a million participants. Her latest book is Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing (Jossey Bass Publishers). Information on her publications and seminars can be accessed through her Web site, www.moralintelligence.com.

© 2001 by Michele Borba. Please contact for permission to reprint.

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