Downward Trends

October 21, 1999

Bill Bennett has been doing an "Index of Leading Cultural Indicators" for the last few years. This year, he reports, there are some positive changes. For example, there are declines in crime, welfare, abortions, and drunk driving. But other social problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases, cohabitation, and teen drug use are up.

So I guess this is an improvement. I can remember just a few years ago when all the positive trends were down, and all of the negative trends were up. Crime increased 300 percent, and violent crime increased 500 percent. The illegitimate birth rate increased 400 percent while the divorce rate doubled.

Now we find ourselves at the end of the 1990s with some mixed signals. Some trends are up, and some trends are down. But before we declare too many victories, let's go back and look at some of the numbers. In the interest of time, let me focus just on birth statistics.

In 1990, 28 percent of births were outside of marriage, and this has now increased to over 32 percent. But don't forget that in 1960 only 5 percent of births were out of wedlock. It's estimated that soon about 40 percent of all births and 80 percent of minority births will occur out of wedlock. And let's not forget what often happens before these births. Nearly one in four pregnancies ends in abortion.

Just the other day, George W. Bush said that Republican leaders on social issues have "painted an image of America slouching toward Gomorrah." I'm not even sure the governor knew he was taking a shot at Judge Robert Bork and his book, Slouching toward Gomorrah. Nevertheless, he, and all of us, should be careful not to get too excited yet about some of these social statistics. Time will tell if true change is taking place.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.