Media guilty of child neglect in first six presidential debates

Note: A January 26, 2016 update includes information from the first ten debates.

Of the 310 questions posed by media moderators in the first six presidential debates, not one was directed to issues related to the health, safety or preparation of children to compete and lead in the economy of the future. That even though candidates at times sought to raise such issues and voter polling shows deep concern – across political affiliations – about child well-being and the nation’s future.

“So far, the media has been guilty of child neglect,” said Charles Bruner, who produced a new coding and content analysis of the debates for the Child and Family Policy Center on behalf of the Children’s Policy Coalition. “But they have a chance to correct this in the debates scheduled this week.”

A poll conducted for CFPC and Every Child Matters in July by Selzer & Company showed that voters rank kids issues high on their list of key issues the next president must address – above even jobs and the economy, the federal budget and terrorism.

“Candidates have shown genuine concern for kids’ issues when they’re raised,” according to Brian Ahlberg, President of the Every Child Matters Education Fund. “What’s needed is real dialogue about their differing approaches so we as a country can build political will for action; the debates are a key place to do this.”

The Every Child Matters Education Fund has launched a “Digital Dialogue” that provides information on what candidates are saying about child policy to encourage public engagement. Ahlberg emphasized the need for media to recognize the issues’ salience among voters, particularly during presidential debates.

There are four scheduled presidential debates before the February 1 Iowa caucuses. The Children’s Policy Coalition, representing over 30 Iowa nonpartisan organizations, is urging candidates and the media to raise child policy to the level it deserves. The Children’s Policy Coalition will be releasing the responses of Democratic presidential hopefuls on six questions related to child policy later this month, with a release of Republican presidential hopeful responses in January.

Read the analysis here.

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