A new report out from the Council for a Strong America spells bad news for the YOLO generation: Evidently, doing whatever you want whenever you want without regard for consequences makes you a bit of a loser.
“Data shows that young Americans are struggling to become productive members of society on multiple measures,” the Council said with the release of its report titled “America Unprepared.”
The report reveals that 1 out of 7 young adults (age 16 to 24) are neither employed nor taking advantage of education opportunities to better their chances of future employment. In addition, the report notes that a quarter of young Americans in the age group have an arrest record, mostly for drug-related offenses.
Combine that with record obesity rates among today’s crop of young adults and not only does it have major implications for the future of the nation’s workforce, it also affects the U.S.’s military readiness.
According to the Council, 70 percent of Americans between 17 and 24 wouldn’t qualify for service in the military because of “problems with obesity, education, drug abuse, or crime.”
“The economy, public safety, and national security are frequent talking points in this election season among candidates running for office, from the White House to the local level,” the organization said. “But these conversations too often gloss-over a challenge underlying every significant sector of American society: a declining number of young adults who are ready to contribute to our nation—what we are calling ‘citizen ready.’”
Among the suggestions the Council has for improving the citizen readiness of young Americans are an increased focus on early education programs in addition to providing more resources for learning initiatives and nutritional/physical education in the nation’s K-12 schools.
“In 2017, Congress and the next president should prioritize targeted, high-quality early education and care, including by reauthorizing and improving the federal Head Start program, and providing needed support for both Head Start and the Preschool Development Grant program,” the organization suggested.
The Council added that the next crop of federal leaders should “defend science-based nutrition standards for school foods, and states should reverse cuts to physical education (PE) programs.”
But, above all, the Council for a Strong America noted that developing a strong citizen-ready youth population begins with strong families.
The group noted: “Just as a stable childhood contributes to better health in young adulthood, disruption in early childhood can lead to a host of negative outcomes. The experience of serious emotional and physical trauma is much more common than one might imagine: 23 percent of American children have experienced at least two traumatic events, which range from abuse or neglect, to parental divorce, to witnessing violence or drug abuse.”
To target the children most vulnerable to trauma in early childhood, the organization suggests that lawmakers champion voluntary home-visiting programs that can help connect young, single parents with resources to help them find better jobs and offer guidance in managing parenting stress.
“There is a biblical basis for helping at-risk moms and dads become better parents,” Pastor Mark Fuller, who champions parent coaching programs through the Council, said.
Find out how your state ranks in youth citizen readiness with the infographic below: