By: Roy Miller – The Children’s Campaign
Today, Voices forAmerica’s Children released an updated report that analyzed the first 20 presidential debates and the frequency of questions focused on substantive children’s issues.
The report – Election 2012 Debate Watch Update: Moving America’s Children Into the Spotlight – chronicled that more than 1,000 questions have been handled by the candidates on issues of national security, the economy, immigration, social security, the federal deficit and more, while only 17 questions were focused on K-12 education, child health, welfare and poverty.
The report was produced by the Child and Family Policy Center headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Its executive director, Dr. Charles Bruner, was the report’s co-author. Bruner said, “How the federal government responds to children and their needs is critical to the nation’s future prosperity, and must be part of the presidential election dialogue and debate.”
The original report, prepared and released in December 2011 by the Child andFamilyPolicyCenter, showed that children’s issues commanded scarcely 2% of the attention during the first 10 presidential debates. Clearly not much has changed since then.
Although candidates have been more likely to mention child policy issues in their responses than moderators have been to raise them, even an avid political follower would not have a valid amount of information to conclude how each candidate proposes to respond to youth in need.
“This analysis reveals the growing disconnect between voters and campaign rhetoric,” says Roy Miller, head of The Children’s Campaign in Florida and chair of the Voices national civic engagement initiative. “The divide goes beyond candidates being stuck to their all-too-familiar scripts and attack strategies on each other. The debate moderators bear some responsibility for content.”
Polls show that issues related-but not limited-to the half a million children/grandchildren in foster care, the 15 million children who drop out of school, the 8 million children currently without health insurance coverage, and many more, are important to voters, but are still being placed on the backburner to other policy issues.