COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Highlights magazine, the most widely read general-interest children's magazine in the United States, has announced results of its annual opinion poll of American kids. The Highlights 2011 State of the Kid (SOTK) survey gives kids a national platform to share their thoughts, concerns and experiences related to major issues that are on the minds of parents nationwide.
The 2011 survey shares kids' views on bullying, their parents and gender roles. The results were announced at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on September 22.
Highlights magazine receives over 55,000 letters and emails annually from kids—from drawings and poems to letters asking for advice. Children often write to express their concerns about friendships, siblings, their home life, money, disasters in the news and other anxieties. Highlights editors read and respond to each letter, and have done so for 65 years. Highlights reaches the homes of more than two million children each month.
"One of the most powerful things we can do for children is to really listen to them," said Christine French Cully, editor in chief of Highlights magazine. "Learning their perspective is essential to finding the best ways to serve them as we strive to help them grow to be their best selves—curious, confident, creative and caring."
Over the last three years, Highlights SOTK survey asked kids many questions about themselves, their preferences, worries and aspirations. This year, the issues kids were asked to weigh in on speak to how they view and interact with others.
"Our hope is that adding kids' voice to the conversation on these topics will enrich and deepen the dialogue, and help all of us who work to make children's lives better," said Cully.
What Are We Talking About When We Discuss "Bullying?"
Sixty-one percent of children feel they have been bullied. But kids, especially younger kids, tend to define bullying as "being mean." The survey showed an interesting difference between the way kids ages 2 to 8 and 9 to 12 define bullying, but both differ from the definition offered by researchers and most adults.
These results suggest that while children's awareness and ideas about bullying have come a long way, our conversations about bullying would be improved by starting with a shared definition.
Amy Lupold Bair, blogger, social-media marketer, mom, and founder of Resourceful Mommy Media, who contributed opinions to the survey findings said, "I find it encouraging that children believe that being hurt emotionally is just as much a part of bullying as being hurt physically."
Are We Raising Fearful Kids?
When asked what their parents worry about, kids responded that parents worry about their safety, followed by money concerns. They specifically named being kidnapped, murdered or hurt. Their comments add interesting dimension to the national discussion on free range vs. helicopter parenting.
Additionally, given the state of the national economy, the study indicates that kids know their parents are worried about money.
"We know from the letters that children write us that they are highly aware of and affected by their parents' emotional lives. They look to the adults in their lives to help them understand the world, and how they should feel about it," said Highlights' Cully.
Being aware of the powerful effect parents' emotional reactions have on children can be anxiety-inducing. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of kids (93%) reported that they think their parents are happy.
How Kids View Gender Roles
The 30 questions Highlights asked kids over the last three years have included some surprising differences between boys and girls. In total, they suggested that girls are highly aware of their physical appearance, and that that affects their current and future vision of themselves and their opportunities. The survey results also reveal a strong focus on athletic prowess for boys, both in their estimation of themselves and their career aspirations.
"As much as we promote gender equality, it seems that kids are still growing up with messages that boys are better than girls at things like sports," said Amy Lupold Bair.
The Highlights 2011 State of the Kid survey was bound into 70,000 subscriber issues of the April 2011 edition of the magazine. A total of 995 completed surveys gave a statistical confidence level of 99% +/-4%, ideal for quantitative purposes.
The Highlights 2011 SOTK survey can be downloaded from www.highlights.com/newsroom. Related helpful articles including tips for parents on protecting young children from economic woes and talking with kids about disasters also can be found at the site.
About Highlights for Children, Inc. (www.Highlights.com) Devoted to "Fun with a Purpose," Highlights for Children, Inc. has helped children become their best selves for generations. Its flagship publication, Highlights magazine, the most recognizable and widely-read children's magazine in the nation, has printed more than a billion copies. Other Highlights offerings include a version for younger children, Highlights High Five, Highlights for Children Book Clubs and mobile applications like My First Hidden Pictures. Online, children can visit www.HighlightsKids.com for interactive content related to each issue of the magazine, and parents can visit www.Highlights.com for informative articles and suggestions for additional family activities. Corporate offices are in Columbus, Ohio, and editorial offices are in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Fun with a Purpose, Goofus and Gallant and Hidden Pictures are trademarks of Highlights for Children, Inc.
SOURCE Highlights for Children