News Column

Survey: Honesty Tops Kids' Political Agenda

Oct . 9, 2012

Highlights Magazine


Highlights magazine has announced the results of its annual opinion poll of American kids. The Highlights 2012 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 2012 survey shares kids' views on reading, inclusion and the presidency. The results were announced at the COSI Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, on October 9.

What Do Kids Want in a President? Honesty!

When kids were asked to select a quality they thought was most important in a president, they had an overwhelming top answer--honesty. Choosing from a list of options including intelligence, kindness, experience and courage, honesty won hands down. Kids (42.5%) resoundingly said that honesty was the most important quality for a president, nearly twice as many as selected the next most popular attribute, kindness. And politicians, take note: these future voters don't care much about your resumes--experience as a desired trait came in last, with only 8.2% of respondents choosing it.

What Tops Kids' Political Agendas? As parents across the country worry about economic security, it is no surprise that this concern is on the minds of kids, as well. Many kids (15.7%) reported that their first action as president would be to do something about the economy, money or taxes. Boys were by far the most likely to try to fix the economy; girls were more likely to say they would help people in need. Exploring the White House was also a somewhat popular choice, with a number of children specifically mentioning trying out the in-house bowling alley.

Will Things Get Better? Despite the fact that kids are very aware of the economic and social challenges the country faces, the vast majority (70.5%) of kids believe in the ability of government leaders to tackle most of the country's problems. Younger children were much more likely (81.1%) to believe in our leaders' problem-solving abilities than the older children (62.0%).

Highlights magazine receives more than 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. It helps us as we strive to help them grow to be their best selves--curious, confident, creative and caring."

Over the last four years, Highlights SOTK survey has asked kids many questions about themselves and their preferences, worries and aspirations.

"Our hope is that adding kids' voices 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.

Kids' verbatim responses, additional data and what they told Highlights about the presidency, reading and inclusiveness can be found at

MethodologyHighlights magazine produced a bind-in survey for subscribers of the magazine to remove, complete and mail in. The survey was also distributed to American teachers via mail. With the intention to collect 1,000 responses, Highlights received 1,265 completed surveys from readers. A total of 1,265 completed surveys gives a statistical confidence level of 99% +/- 3.6%, ideal for quantitative purposes. Data was collected in the spring of 2012.

Source: Highlights Magazine

Source: Copyright PRNewswire 2012

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