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Kids’ Well-being Improving in Some Areas

American children are healthier, more financially secure, more educated and more socially adept, according to a recent federal report.

The 2001 “America’s Children” report found 86 percent of children are covered by health insurance nowadays–the highest amount since 1995, the New York Times reported.
Both the Times and Associated Press noted a steady decline in the child poverty rate, particularly in households headed by women and in black families.
The report also found that the percentage of children “who had at least one parent working full-time, all year” increased slightly from 77 percent in 1998 to 79 percent in 1999. Children living below the poverty line are increasingly likely to be included in this category.
Children growing up in high-income homes doubled from 1980 to 1999, jumping to 29 percent, AP reported.
Violent crime victimization for 12- to 17-year-olds fell from 25 per 1,000 in 1998 to 20 per 1,000 in 1999. The change is part of a “longer-term downward trend” in violent crimes since 1994, the Times article read.
Adolescent deaths were at an all-time low of 71 deaths per 100,000, according to the Times.
“These findings represent important victories for children and adolescents,” Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told the Times. “Children are less likely to live in poverty, more likely to have a parent working full time and more likely to have health insurance.”
But there is also some bad news. AP reported that American children are growing up “wealthier than ever,” but “this generation of youngsters isn’t the healthiest, the wisest or the best behaved.”
The report showed a slight decrease in smoking among high-school students, dropping from 23 to 21 percent in 1991 among seniors and from 16 to 14 percent among 10th-graders.
Heavy drinking remained “largely unchanged” from 1999. Thirty percent of high-school seniors, 26 percent of 10th-graders and 14 percent of eighth-graders reported heavy drinking, defined as “having at least five drinks in a row at least once in the previous two weeks.”
About 25 percent reported drug use in the previous month, the Times reported.
As of 1998, asthma remained the No. 1 chronic illness among children, the report said. More than 5 percent under the age of 18 years were diagnosed with asthma, an increase of more than 20 percent over the last decade, the Times reported.
Despite soaring statistics in child health insurance coverage and rising household incomes for all groups of children, many are in families that lack proper health insurance coverage, said Margaret Simms, research director for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
“Economic expansion is not enough to put all families on equal footing,” Simms told AP.
Visit http://www.childstats.gov/ac2001/ac01.asp to view the full report.
Jared Porter is BCE’s reporting intern.