When addressing issues of poverty and rates of crime throughout the US, education would appear to be the strongest tool in opposition. This applies to the teaching of children and young adults in two separate guises: from standard or private educational bodies and personal examples set through the conduct of guardians. However, while the number of children enrolling in education is rising year by year, there are concerns as the rates of crime, poverty and teenage birth continue to display a rising trend. The total number of children and adults enrolled in education was over 72 million in 2008, which was a significant increase in the figure of 69.5 million in 2000. These figures include individuals who sought and completed further educational and vocational courses, and who continued to learn and develop through their adult years. These statistics, when compared with the comparative levels of hardship and delinquent behaviour in certain areas, would suggest that education is not a relevant resource with which to improve society significantly. The Ages of Child Enrolment However, investigation of these numbers reveals some more relevant portents. While the number of children enrolled in schools and educational outlets has risen annually, the number of children per demographic age range has not. In some cases, there are groups of children where the numbers of school attendees have actually decreased from those reported in 2000. A secondary element is the ever increasing population of the US, which inevitably increases the number of youngsters and individual’s eligible for schooling year on year. Indeed, the largest increase in school applicants and attendees has been amongst those seeking college and further education. The number of teenagers and adults who have attended college and then pursued additional courses as part of their education accounts for approximately 2.5 million of the overall increase between 2000 and 2008. Though this is an encouraging sign in terms of the levels of aspiration shown in the younger generation, it is relevant chiefly to improving career prospects and earning potential. For children between the ages of 3 and 16 however, school is a far more significant experience. It develops social skills and behavioural patterns that lay a foundation for their conduct in later life, and the statistics reveal that there has been very little increase in school enrolment amongst this demographic. Worse still, in some cases there has actually been a regression in the numbers, which has seen less children between the ages of 5 and 13 registered for primary schooling. Learned Behaviour and Socialization Between the ages of 5 and 13, children are vulnerable to everything that they see and hear. School is an especially useful tool for socializing and developing social conduct skills, and enhances what youngsters have already learned from their parents and siblings. In 2000 however, there were an estimated 35.9 million US children enrolled in schools throughout the country, but this figure has fallen to less than 35 million by 2008. While not a vast shift in terms of number, the consequence could certainly be significant if this trend were to continue. One reason for this decrease may be certain parent’s perception of the world. It is not uncommon for adults to perceive the world as a dangerous and mean spirited place, and believe that by home schooling their children they are protecting them from disruptive peers and outside influences. In fact, they are not only depriving their child from necessary social interaction but also creating a false reality for their upbringing, which make them more vulnerable to the truth of society when they grow into young and decision making adults. Children at their most inquisitive when they are between the ages of 5 and 13, so any conduct they do witness at school that is disruptive is likely to met with a question rather than mindless repetition. This then allows parents or responsible adults to allay any fears and administer advice. Contrast that with a guarded young adult who witnesses delinquent behaviour at an older age, where the act is met with a closed and more developed mind that makes its own interpretation and reacts according to an individual impulse. Not Quantity but Quality The increasing in school enrolment rates would appear to be positive and encouraging news, both for the future of the economy and society. However, it is not the number of people who attend schools but the number of necessary people who attend them that is most significant, especially when looking to tackle inherently social issues such as crime and unplanned pregnancy amongst youths. With this in mind, targeting the 5-13 age demographic is crucial to creating a more productive and developed generation of adults. Of course, this comes down to encouraging parents that public or private schools are a viable teaching option, and far preferable to home schooling. While it is true that crime rates and the levels of anti-social behaviour are high in certain states, it may well be that these acts are part of a vicious cycle of poor or inadequate schooling and the reduced development of socialization and subsequent social skills. Only by challenging the ethos that children are better off at home than in school can future communities truly benefit education.