Report Shows Gains, Setbacks For Nation's Children

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Compared to national statistics for the previous year, there has been an increase in the percentage of children living with at least one working parent and the percentage of children living in households classified as food insecure has declined.

High school students were more likely to have taken advanced academic courses and the percentage of young adults who completed high school has increased. The adolescent birth rate has dropped to a record low.

Increasing were: the percentage of children served by community water systems that did not meet all applicable standards for healthy drinking water, and the percentage of children living in physically inadequate or crowded housing or housing that cost more than 30 percent of household income. The percentage of low birthweight infants also increased, as did the percentage of births to unmarried women. The rate at which youth were perpetrators of serious violent crime increased slightly.

These findings are described in detail in America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007, the U.S. government's annual report that monitors the well-being of the Nation's children and youth. The report is a compendium of the most recently released federal statistics on the nation's children, issued by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. It presents a comprehensive look at critical areas of child well-being. These encompass family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.

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"The increase in the percentage of children living with a working parent is welcome news," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. "Secure parental employment helps to reduce the psychological toll on families, brought on by parental unemployment and underemployment."

"This year also saw a rise in the percentage of children with low birthweight," Dr. Alexander said. Low birthweight infants are at increased risk of dying in the first year of life, as well at risk for serious disability. He added that a variety of research efforts were under way to prevent preterm birth, a major cause of low birthweight.

For the report's 10th anniversary, the Forum members revised the structure of the report, adding two new sections: Physical Environment and Safety, and Health Care. Nine new indicators were also added. These include indicators on child maltreatment, oral health, drinking water quality, lead in the blood of children, child injury and mortality, adolescent injury and mortality, sexual activity, college enrollment, and asthma.

Economic Circumstances

In 2005, 78.3 percent of children had at least one parent working year round, full time

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