Teen Births, Youth Violent Crimes Down
But Kids Are Gaining Weight -- Especially Black Girls, Hispanic Boys
July 16, 2004 -- Fewer teen births, fewer violent crimes, and fewer kids
living in poverty -- they're all signs that life for America's kids is
improving, according to new report. However, far too many kids are becoming
The report, produced by the Forum on Child
and Family Statistics, provides a snapshot of various indicators of children's
well-being in 2001.
15% of children ages 6 to 18 are overweight, compared
with 6% in 1976-1980.
24% of black girls and 29% of Mexican-American boys
were overweight, the highest numbers among racial, ethnic, and sex
88% of children are covered by health insurance,
maintaining the all-time high that was attained in 2000.
Seven infants deaths per 1,000 births occurred in 2000,
compared with 11 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1983; black babies continue
to have the highest infant death rates.
Teen deaths declined throughout the 1990s, from 89
deaths per 100,000 in 1991 to an all-time low of 67 deaths per 100,000 in
Teen births have also declined to 25 births per 1,000
girls ages 15-17, the lowest rate ever recorded.
The decrease in teen births was especially impressive
among black teens, dropping to 45 births per 1,000 in 2001 from a previous
level of 86 births per 1,000 girls age 15-17.
Significantly fewer teens are smoking: 10% of 10th
graders and 17% of 12th graders reported smoking daily in the previous 30
There was no significant change in alcohol drinking.
Overall, 12% of eighth graders and 29% of 12th graders were drinking
There was also no significant change in illegal drug
use -- 21% of 10th graders were using illegal drugs.
However, children are still living in
poverty and inadequate housing. According to the report, 36% of U.S. households
with children had one or more of the following three housing problems in 2001:
physically inadequate housing, crowded housing, or housing that cost more than
30% of the household income. Sixteen percent are living in poverty, compared
with 22% in 1993; in 2000, 19% were living in crowded housing, compared with
16% a decade earlier, the report said.