Children Have Engaged in Less Risky Behavior Over Last 12 Years, Study Finds
Children have been engaging in less risky behavior over the past 12 years, although more young people are obese or living in poverty or single-parent homes, according to a report published in the January issue of Social Indicators Research, the AP/Boston Globe reports.
Researchers from Duke University, supported by the Foundation for Child Development, developed a Child Well-Being Index to track 28 health factors in youths and found that:
- The adolescent and teen birth rate was 10.9 births per 1,000 girls in 2004, compared with 20 births per 1,000 girls in 1992;
- At the time of the survey, 29.2% of high school seniors had consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in one setting within the previous two weeks, compared with 36.9% in 1975;
- About 120 per 1,000 youths ages 12 to 17 were targets of crime in 1994, compared with an estimated 45 per 1,000 youths in 2004;
- The obesity rate among children ages six to 17 increased from about 5% in 1975 to almost 16% in 2003;
- The number of youths age 18 and younger living in single-parent households increased from about 17% in 1975 to 27.5% in 2003; and
- Academic achievement test scores "remained stagnant" over the course of the study, despite increases in per-pupil spending, the AP/Globe reports.
Jeffrey Butts, director of the youth justice program at the Urban Institute, said that more study is required before attributing the trends to specific policy changes. FCD Senior Program officer Fasaha Traylor said, "We can do better, and we are doing better, but not better enough" (Freking, AP/Boston Globe, 3/30). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.