|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category|
The number of older adults in the United States who are moving in with their younger families is increasing the need for houses with “in-law’ suites across the entire country. This presents emotional difficulties for both seniors and caregivers. According to estimates, there are now 34 million American families who now live together in the United States. Social workers who specialize in caregivers of elderly parents suggest five main ideas to alleviate some of the pressure: talk about issues before events get stressful and communication more difficult, know where to get help, don’t do this by yourself (get help when needed), understand both your finances, and get plenty of sleep, exercise, and a regular diet.
According to the US Census Bureau, living arrangements for seniors has rapidly become a great concern in the last decade. The largest percentage of senior citizens 65 and older, 67.8%, lives in family households whether with spouses or other relatives. The next largest, 32%, are living in non-family settings such as assisted living, living alone or living with nonrelatives.
Progress Halting on Sexual Health and Reproduction of Teens and Young Adults
Published Thursday, July 30th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the period of improvement in sexual and reproductive health of U.S. teens and young adults has flattened and may be worsening. The data is reported in the “Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10-24 Years – United States, 2002-2007” and comes from various sources in order to get a clear picture of the trends. Some of the findings include the majority of the new diagnoses of HIV infection among adolescents and young adults occurred among those aged 20-24 years and among males. Furthermore, about 1 million adolescents and young adults aged 10-24 years were reported to have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2006.
This report also details that the progress seen in later years has halted, such as teen birth rates increasing in 2006 and 2007 following large declines from 1991-2005. Also, syphilis cases among teens and young adults aged 15-19 and 20-24 years have increased in both males and females in recent years. Rates of AIDS cases among males aged 15-24 years increased during 1997-2006 (AIDS data reflects people with HIV who have already progressed to AIDS.) Additionally, rates of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses among young adults were highest among non-Hispanic black youth across all age groups.
A report called “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009” has been issued by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The report looks at a variety of trends in issues affecting children and teens, such as preterm births, exposure to tobacco, and drug use. Established by the Clinton Administration in April 1997, the forum now comprises 22 Federal agencies as well as private research organizations, collecting and reporting on a large number of issues. The Forum also calls attention to needs for new data about trends affecting children and teens. Each report has highlighted critical data gaps and challenges Federal statistical agencies to do better. In recent years, the forum has focused on areas such as disability, the mental health of children, and environmental quality.
Some of the findings include tobacco exposure, which after successful campaigns is down 50% in 2008 from its peak years of 1996 and 1997. 3% of 8th graders, 6% of 10th graders, 12% of 12th graders reported using cigarettes in 2008. Also, in 2008, only a quarter of High School students drank alcohol heavily as opposed to one-third in 1998. Illicit drug use is down considerably in 2008, as opposed to its peak in 1996/1997, including Cocaine. Currently, illicit drug use reduced to 8% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 22% of 12th graders.
Disadvantages Exist for Some Who are Never Married
Published Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
A new study derived from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, “Who Marries and When? Age at First Marriage in the United States: 2002,” suggests that only 17% of American women haven’t married by age 35, compared to 25% of men. Further evidence indicates that there is a 50% probability that women marry for the first time by age 25; men don’t hit 50% until 27 years of age. By 40 years of age, the probability rises to 86% for women and 81% for men. By race, there are differences even as early as age 18, in which there is a 10% probability of Hispanic women being married — doubling white women and triple that of black women. Between 25 and 44, 84% of non-Hispanic women have married vs. 56% of non-Hispanic black women. The report involved 12,571 people — 4,928 males and 7,643 females between 15 and 44 years old.
The data points to a large minority of black women still unmarried during nearly half their lifetime; while not necessary, it leaves single mothers disadvantaged in many ways. Though down after years of successful campaigns, teen birth rates among black teens is still second to Hispanic teens. The highest education level of both men and women of all races tends to be high school graduation and some college for those divorced or never married.
One of the major problems of mapping and prevention efforts facing the Centers for Disease Control’s effort to battle the spread of HIV/Aids happens to be accurate tracking. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the CDC’s efforts to monitor trends in new HIV infections has been hampered by HIV diagnosis occurring years after infection. New technology developed by the CDC can now distinguish recent from long-standing infections. Called Serologic testing algorithm for recent HIV Seroconversion (STARHS), the technology is used to develop the nation’s first surveillance system that is based on more concise estimates of the annual number of new HIV incidence than before. The first estimates from this system, issued in August 2008, revealed that the rate of HIV infections in 2006 were roughly 40% higher than former estimates reported. Also, as of April 2008, reporting for new infections has been nationalized as all 50 states, D.C. and territories all comply with the confidential Name-Based Reporting system.
Better diagnostics and reporting systems will help health care officials focus plans and evaluate prevention care and treatment programs on persons most at risk. According to the CDC, even with the new diagnostics, the rate of cases of HIV per year has remained steady since the late 1990’s. Analysis of the data points to a male to female ratio of 4-1 for new cases, plus new cases are rising for nearly every age group. Of those new cases, those infected are more likely to be of a minority or gay or bisexual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a shift in the percentage of children born outside of marriage for the U.S. and other countries in recent years. The unmarried births are even more common in other countries according to the report, which lists 12 European Countries plus Japan. Those who rank above the US are Iceland at 66%, Sweden at 55%, Norway at 54%, France at 50% and Denmark and the UK at 46% and 44% respectively. The lowest percentage of unmarried births came from Japan, which amounted to 2%.
For the US, the 2007 report stated that during the 27 years between reports, unmarried births more than doubled from 18% to 40%. Accordingly, 60% of those births in 2007 were born of women in their early 20s, where before most of the unmarried births were from teen pregnancies. Also, 40% of those women who had children did so as part of a couple. By educational attainment, women who have children outside of marriage do so most between 9th grade and some college/AA Degree. Examining living arrangements for children of non-married couples shows that for both black and white mothers, the largest number of single mothers have never been married. This report comes as many women with children under 18 years old are leaving the work force. As for the single father, he is likely to be divorced as well as have a high school degree and some college.
According to the American Religious Identification survey, those who claimed no religion, atheism or “Nones” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Many atheists have started to ‘come out of the closet’ as groups like the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (South Carolina) have started to advertise. Over the last two decades, 10 national organizations identifying closely with Humanism, Atheism, freethinkers and others have united to form the Secular Coalition for America, complete with lobbying. The movement’s momentum also comes from groups on college campuses called the Secular Student Alliance, which has increased 104 chapters in 6 years to 146 chapters nationwide.
Besides the Muslim religion, Non-believers are the only category to expand; all others decreased by 10ths of a percentage point. Yet nationally, the numbers of the US population who identified their religious self-identification as ‘Nones’ and Atheist have nearly doubled from 8.2% in 1990 to 15.7% in 2008. Historically, “Nones” have concentrated in the West region. However, this pattern has changed dramatically as Nones increased their numbers in all fifty states, something no other religious group can claim. Further research is ongoing to explore whether religious switching is a reason for the “Nones” doubling during the time period.
Down Syndrome an Increasing Factor in Abortion Choice
Published Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Last week the former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin told an anti-abortion audience in Indiana that, “for a fleeting moment,” she considered having an abortion after learning that her son Trig would have Down syndrome. Studies done in the late 1990s suggest that upwards to 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth would be terminated by abortion. Not all babies are tested before birth since the it is optional. All in all, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 26-37% percent of pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated.
Between 1974 and 2004, women who opted for abortions fell 33%. However, differences among racial and economic groups persist as to who gets an abortion. One of the largest factors in the decline has been the drop in teen pregnancies and abortions — 33-17% between 1974-2004 — due to the intense work addressing teen pregnancy. Most women having abortions today come from lower income groups are also more likely to be older, unmarried, and already have children. While the abortion rate has dropped among all racial groups, it still remains three times higher among Hispanic women and five times higher among black women, when compared to white women.
From Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that decades of US anti-narcotics policies have been a failure and have contributed to the explosion of drug violence that has flooded Mexico and threatens the US southwest. This is a surprising turn of events, as past politicians have blamed Mexico for not doing enough to staunch the traffic of illegal drug trafficking. The Obama administration has announced it is seeking $66 million in new funding for extra helicopters for the Mexican Police. Clinton also stated that equipment promised under the Merida Initiative, a 3 year $1.4 billion package of anti-drug assistance to Mexico and Central America, will be a top priority. This meeting will precede the visit by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, and later President Obama ahead of the Summit of the Americas in April.
Secretary Clinton also stated that “neither interdiction nor reducing demand have been successful.” The arrest for illicit drug abuse violations has reached nearly 2 million a year; that is 1.9 million adults and 100,000 juveniles arrested. 84.9% of teens state that they have ready access Marijuana, 46.7% for cocaine, 38.8% for crack and 27.4% for Heroin. Of those surveyed, the teens that have used Cocaine in the last 30 days remain steady at 1.9-2% and for those who have used in the last year also remains steady between 4.4-5.2%.
As Spring Break arrives, reports that local and state officials in many states have increased patrols and road blocks due to the higher levels of college kids and teenagers driving under the influence. According the Centers for Disease Control, the consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not. Moreover, 31% of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months.
Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes. The percentage of motor vehicle deaths attributed to drunk driving had steadily decreased from 60% in 1982 to 40% in 1997. From that point on, the percentage has remained approximately 40%. From 2004 to 2005, for nearly every age group, those involved in fatal crashes due to alcohol rose from 0.5 to 1.6 percentage points. Those most involved were males aged 21-34, which ranged from 33-28% of all fatal crashes.