Survey: American Parents Rank Youth Mental Health as Top Concern

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Children’s mental health tops the list of parental worries, with many American parents expressing concern that their children “might struggle with anxiety and depression at some point,” a new Pew Research Center survey found.

An analysis of 3,757 U.S. parents with children under the age of 18 found that roughly 40 percent say they are “extremely or very worried” about their children’s mental health, followed by 35 percent who are worried, extremely or very, about their children being bullied. The results come “in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid reports of a growing youth mental health crisis,” the report states.

“These items trump parents’ concerns about certain physical threats to their children, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy and getting in trouble with the police,” according to the survey, which was conducted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2, 2022.

Twenty-three percent of parents report being “not too” or “not at all” worried about their children’s mental health, and 36 parent say they are “somewhat concerned.” Twenty-eight percent of parents say they are “extremely/very” worried about their children being kidnapped or abducted, 31 percent say they are somewhat concerned, and 41 percent are not. 

Parents ranked “getting beaten up or attacked” (25 percent) and developing problems with drugs or alcohol (23 percent) similarly as an issue they are extremely or very worried about. Parents reported being least concerned about teen pregnancy (54 percent who say “not too or not at all”) and getting in trouble with the police (67 percent). 

By significant margins, mothers are more likely than fathers to worry about most of these things. There are also differences by income and by race and ethnicity, with lower-income and Hispanic parents generally more likely than other parents to worry about their children’s physical safety, teen pregnancy and problems with drugs and alcohol,” the survey found.  “Black and Hispanic parents are more likely than White and Asian parents to say they are extremely or very worried about their children getting shot or getting in trouble with the police.”


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