|Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Children’|
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.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued a report stating that obesity is still growing since last year’s reports of 25.6% adult obesity. The report suggests we have grown to 26.1% adult obesity in 2008. Topping the scale is Mississippi, which registered at 32.8%; Colorado weighed in at 18.5% obese, the only state to remain under 20%. The CDC report comes as a study calls for senior citizens to participate in progressive resistance training. Beyond the obvious need for us all to be more active, senior citizens who exercise build up muscle mass that is typically lost as they age. The clinical review saw a moderate to large improvement in doing simple to complex daily activities, in addition to less pain and osteoarthritis symptoms that also plague the obese.
In the 16 years that the CDC has tracked the obesity levels there has been a steady increase of 47.7% to 67.1% in adolescents and adults. The level of activity vary as much as 10 percentage points between major race groups as 50% of White and Non-Hispanics exercising, 40% black, and 43% Hispanic. Likewise, age groups follow the same pattern as 60% of 18-29 year olds, 47% of 30-74 year olds and 40% of 75 and older workout.
According to Health and Human Services, the welfare rolls have been rising in most states over the last year. In the some of the hardest-hit areas, one would think the rolls would raise the most; yet, the numbers are decreasing. Utah is leading the trend as rolls have increased by 29% more cases than last year. Yet, Michigan, a state facing the highest unemployment, has experienced 4.8% reductions in welfare rolls. Authorities suggest that some may be leaving the state for better prospects or the ones who are staying are receiving unemployment benefits. The usual assistance provided by unemployment puts many beyond the eligibility of welfare. Some advocates believe the strict provision of the 1996 revamp of Welfare System has slowed down applicant’s entry into welfare. Nationally, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Alaska, Montana, New Jersey, and Nebraska all have falling rolls.
As of 2006, the most current data from the Current Population Reports, the Federal Poverty Threshold or poverty line for families of 4 rest at $20,614, an increase of nearly $5,000 from a decade ago. The most vulnerable, children, as of 1996 had experienced near 23% poverty rate; this had dropped to 15% by 2000 and increased after to 17% by 2006. Likewise, families experienced the same rate of decline and leveling to 10.8%; those with only female heads-of-households reached 30.7%.
The idea that pre-school should be as universal as K-12 has been getting ever more attention by educators and public officials. The thinking is for government to provide education to all 4-year-olds in an effort to close the school-readiness gaps that exist and persist beyond kindergarten. The Obama administration has stated that early childhood education is one of the top priorities of his term, and the federal government intends to spend an additional $10 billion per year on enhancing early childhood education. A report by the Rand Corporation states that the achievement gap can be narrowed by 10 to 20% by increasing the number of underprivileged children attending pre-schools and by improving the quality of education.
School readiness studies measure a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, write their own name and/or pretends to read. A child’s ability to accomplish these tasks rests on a myriad of conditions including gender; females out-perform males in almost every category for the last 13 years. Children of a two parent home fair 4-7% better at all skills measured than those of single or no parent households. Household income also impacts readiness since those above the poverty threshold are found to possess skills 15% more than those below the threshold. Strikingly, children whose mothers’ work and those not in the labor force also fair better than those whose mothers are unemployed. Readiness by race is close for whites, blacks and others; however, many Hispanic children fall behind as much as 5-15% compared to their counterparts.
According to a United Nations report, hunger in South Asia has reached levels not seen in 40 years as prices of food and fuel have risen and the global economy slows. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that 100 million more people are going hungry compared to two years ago. The areas most affected are Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, all of which are seeing upheavals and conflict. The World Bank states that three quarters of the population or 1.2 billion live on $2 a day and nearly 400 million (including children) are chronically hungry. Factors for the rising numbers include declining wages at home, a drop in monies sent home from abroad, and high prices that force people to borrow money at high interest. Children are being pulled out of school and sent to work; income is being spent on food but not on other essentials; and women are forgoing food for families.
The report suggests that the two biggest countries, India and Pakistan, reduce their defense budgets to allow for an increase in social spending, plus the use of fiscal stimulus programs. Foreign aid is also mentioned as a remedy. Big spenders like Norway and the Netherlands have decreased foreign aid funds, yet after several years of decline, the United States has increased its foreign aid in 2008. The FY 2010 budget promises a further increase in foreign aid and assistance.
According to the Child and Youth Well-Being Index Project at Duke University, gains made since 1975 in family economic well-being could be endangered over the next few years. The measure of family economic well-being is measured by a combination of poverty rate, median annual income, parental employment and health insurance coverage for children. The report describes a connectivity between the different measures and predicts that more than one out of five American children will live in poverty in 2010, with African-American and Hispanic children experiencing twice the level of poverty.
The United States has remained near the bottom of the industrialized countries in regards to child poverty rates, exceeded only by that of Mexico. The rate of child poverty in the US has in recent years flattened at the rate of 16.9% as of 2007. As for the other measures of the index, the average hourly real earnings for US workers has shrunk to $8.23 an hour (1982 dollars) in 2008. Except for the Asian population, the characteristics of families living in poverty suggest that children are more likely to live with their mother and be impoverished. Plus, since 2000, the number of children enrolled to the SCHIP (State Child Health Insurance Program) has more than doubled from 2000 to 7.145 million in 2007.
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.
In an effort to influence the Health Reform that President Obama is determined to initiate, hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors will voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years, potentially adding up to $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years. 6 major health groups pledged to cut the rise in health care costs by 1.5 percentage points each year. This move will help provide health insurance to the growing 50 million who now have no health insurance. Obama’s plan is estimated to cost the federal government $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, only half of that has been accounted for by the White House. Health groups who discouraged the health reforms prescribed by the Clinton administration seem to be coming forward to help President Obama for a variety of reasons.
By 2007, overall annual consumer expenditures for Private and public health care has reached 1.2 trillion and 1.02 trillion respectively. The difference in public and private expenditures has not always been so wide; between 1977 and the present, the range has slowly grown wider, except between 1994 to 2000 where private shrank and public grew. The number of uninsured has grown from 14% in 2000 to 15.3% of the population in 2007. The percentage includes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which has grown from 3.4 million in 2000 to 6 million in 2005. Most prone to be uninsured are minorities, who are disproportionately uninsured at 24.5-21.8% and those who of 18-44 years of age. All of which has lead to a steady increase in government health care rolls from 10.3% in 2000 to 13.2% in 2007.