CHICAGO — A resurgence of a better home life, not more federal aid, is needed to stem high rates of pregnancy, drug use and suicide among young people, the nation's top education official said Tuesday.
"The decline of the American family constitutes perhaps the greatest long-term threat to our children's well-being," Education Secretary William J. Bennett told about 450 people attending a symposium on family relations.
Bennett said that, despite a rise in welfare spending from 1960 to 1980 and despite the establishment of more than 260 programs for children by 1976, the average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores fell during the period while births to unwed teen-agers and the rates of juvenile arrests and homicides by young people more than doubled.
"It is clear that spending a lot of money certainly did not get our children to where we want them to be," Bennett said.
"The problem lies with the diminishment of (the) family, and the biological, psychological and educational well-being of our children depends on the well-being of families," he said.