As we've mentioned once or twice before, the news media is hopelessly addicted to doom and gloom. And that's easy to understand, since the horrifying and grotesque parts of our world tend to also be the biggest attention grabbers (a fact that we here at Cracked happen to be well familiar with, because nothing says "comedy" quite like your imminent and inescapable demise). But if you take a moment to stop actively focusing on the negative, it's easy to see that, despite our collective insistence to the contrary, the world as a whole is chugging along towards a better place.
For evidence, look no further than the fact that ...
5 Violence In Schools Has Gone Down Dramatically (No Shit)
Back in 1999, two dick-brained, attention-seeking numbfucks decided to shoot up their high school, forever pushing school shootings to the forefront of the American news cycle. In the ensuing years, such incidents have grown to all-out epidemic proportions, transforming our schools into Stand And Deliver-esque murder factories in which no child is safe. You'd be better off sending little Johnny down to the classroom at the nearest federal prison than you would sending him to the den of iniquities that is your local public school.
At least they teach practical life skills, like how to shank a bitch.
That's why schools are staging live-action drills with fake guns, sometimes without letting anyone know in advance that it's actually a drill. Hey, there won't be any advance warning when the real shooting inevitably occurs!
The Good News:
The past 25 years have seen a significant and continuing drop in violent crimes perpetrated at schools. Not only are schools safer than they've ever been, but researchers argue that, statistically, schools are now the safest place for kids, period.
And they're not pulling this out of their asses: 1993 was the most violent school year in the U.S., with 42 homicides and 13 other serious crimes per 1,000 students. By 2010, those numbers had dropped to two and four, respectively.
Coincidentally, a graph of what SATs have done for our children's brainpower follows the exact same trajectory.
But how is that even possible, when it sometimes seems that every other week brings a new incident of school violence plastered all over our screens? Well, what you need to stop and realize is that we're all victims of a news media that's focused entirely on the small (if unquestionably tragic) picture. School shootings make headlines specifically because they're so rare, but the prevalence of those headlines gives the impression this shit is happening all the time. But if you pan your mind's camera out, you see that our schools are benefiting from a general downtick in violence that's taking place across all strata of our society.
We can also partially thank zero-tolerance policies for our safer schools ... that is, the abolition of dumbass zero-tolerance policies. Administrators are finally realizing that such strict enforcement only works in Iron Curtain states, and that kids only become more disruptive when the tiniest infraction is met with heavy punishments. Apparently, when afforded a modicum of freedom, kids possess an unanticipated ability to not turn into animals. Let's all take a lesson from them, shall we?
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We'd also like to revisit out adult nap time suggestion.
4 Our Kids Are Getting Healthier
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According to late-night cable ads, the news media at large, and every mom who's ever served Lima beans, hellscapes such as Africa or Burma are awash in malnourished and diseased children. While we're sitting on our asses tinkering with our iPads and complaining that our favorite author doesn't write books fast enough, in many areas of the world, kids are lucky to even see their fifth birthday.
Meanwhile, here at home, we're struggling to keep our kids healthy in the precise opposite manner, thanks to limitless access to fast food and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. But there must be some good news buried somewhere between these two extremes, mustn't there?
The Hershey Company
What if we sent the Peanut Butter Cups to African kids who reach their fifth birthday?
The Good News:
First off, to be absolutely clear: All those images of suffering children are 100 percent for real, and you should definitely continue throwing boatloads of cash at whichever organization Bono tells you to. That being said, the progress that's been made over the last quarter century is nothing short of astounding: According to the latest UN report, the rate of children dying before their fifth birthday has dropped by almost half since 1990. To put that in more relatable terms: Our concerted efforts to charity the shit out of child mortality have saved the lives of 100 million children.
It's important to note that cutting the child mortality rate by half still falls well short of the two-thirds goal that UNICEF had hoped to reach by 2015. But still, the downward trend is full-on snowballing. It seems that the world really can unite for a common cause. At least, when said cause is fending off alien invasions or savin' our babies.
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Always remember that children are our alien-invasion-fighting future.
Back home, our own childhood epidemic -- that is, our chocolatey Ho Ho epidemic -- isn't exactly going as TLC's reality show lineup would have you believe. A federal health survey examining child tubbiness over the past decade showed a drastic 43 percent decrease in obesity rates. How is that even possible? Well, researchers fail to pinpoint a single cause, instead crediting a recent, sweeping wave of nutritional and physical reform, which includes such components as Michelle Obama's MyPlate initiative (which tossed out the old, bullshit-laden food pyramid) and the lucky break that millennials happen to be the first generation that fast food advertising just plain doesn't work on.
Fortunately for our future waistlines, we may be seeing the first wave of children too diet-conscious to fall prey to the lull of cheesy snacks and fast food fries. Unfortunately for said children's parents, that also means they're utterly unbribable with something as cheap as a Happy Meal.
"If you behave at the party, you'll get some organic kale!" doesn't have the same ring to it.