This report addresses the media’s depictions of children’s issues and outlines the effective use of strategic communications to change the way these issues are framed in order to support policy and outreach work. Policy issues highlighted in the report were identified by KIDS COUNT grantees in a September 1998 survey.
Effective communication can help shape public understanding of issues impacting children
Findings & Stats
No. 1 Problem
“Lack of parental supervision” was named the most serious problem facing children by participants in a 1999 survey.
A Shared Fear
While overall fears about crime had decreased, more than half of those surveyed experienced “a lot” of fear for their own child’s safety when they are at shopping malls or out on the street.
Drawing a Blank
Nearly a quarter of adults could not name one pressing health problem facing children; nearly half could not name two problems.
A Common Hurdle
Of adults surveyed, 55% believed it was “extremely” or “very” difficult to find affordable, high quality childcare.
Statements & Quotations
No organization can approach such issues as community building, constituency building or promoting best practices without taking into account the critical role that mass media has to play in shaping the way Americans think about social issues.
While children’s experts may have overwhelming proof that welfare has taken a toll on children, this is unlikely to meet with public outcry. Better to realign the findings in terms the public can get behind: is the safety net holding for children? Are we getting all our children off on the right foot for the 21st century? Thinking through the way we present discrete issues, and recasting these as part of broader goals is imperative.
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