Tuesday, July 14, 2009

America's Children government report released

A new report released from the U.S. government tracks the well being of children in the states. The report called "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009," tells us how America's children are doing in health, education and socially.

A Washington Times columnist gives us some of the results from the report. Cheryl Wetzstein says there is some "good news and bad news."

The report, found at http://childstats.gov/ americaschildren, shows several improvements from last year: More children have health insurance (89 percent); fewer children ages 5 to 14 died as a result of injury (seven per 100,000); fewer 10th-graders regularly smoked (6 percent) or binge-drank (16 percent); and fewer babies were born prematurely (12.7 percent), had low birth weight (8.2 percent) or died before their first birthday (6.7 per 1,000). Fourth- and eighth-graders scored higher in math and reading, and more young adults completed high school (89 percent).

Another welcome change was a steep drop in the number of youths ages 12 to 17 involved in serious violent crimes. The youth-offender rate fell from 17 per 1,000 in 2005 to 11 per 1,000 in 2007, a "very large difference in a very positive direction," said Edward J. Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics.

On the downside, the number of children living in poverty ticked up (18 percent), while the number living with at least one employed parent ticked down (77 percent) - and these data "predate the current economic downturn," said Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The number of preschoolers who have a family member read to them regularly also fell alarmingly - from 60 percent in 2005 to 55 percent in 2007 - which means more children will be less prepared for school. And, of course, far more children were born to single mothers - in 1980, there were 29 births per 1,000 single women; by 2007, it was 53 births per 1,000.

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