Have you ever thought about what motivates the behavior of children? We hear all the time that children are impressionable and follow the popular trends, sometimes to their detriment. Even though many environment-related issues continue to increase in America, a new government report shows that teens have decreased some pop-culturally glorified acts.
The report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011, has some positive trends: Fewer teenagers are having babies, binge drinking, preterm birth rates are dropping, and deaths from injury are declining.
But, the same report also points to several negative trends. More eighth-graders are using drugs, more children are living in poverty, and many kids are in homes where a parent hasn’t worked full time in a year.
“This report documents some significant changes in several key areas,” said Edward Sondik, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics “This annual report is an important tool to monitor the well being of our nation’s children,” said Sondik. “Each area we report on is critical to our youth.”
Here is an overview of some the positive trends:
- Teen birth rates dropped, from 21.7 per 1,000 girls in 2008 to 20.1 per 1,000 girls in 2009.
- Premature births dropped from 12.3 percent in 2008 to 12.2 percent in 2009.
- Injuries among teens dropped from 44 per 100,000 in 2008 to 39 per 100,000 in 2009.
- Binge drinking among 12th graders dropped from 25 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2010.
- Infant deaths dropped from 6.6 per 1,000 in 2008 to 6.4 per 1,000 in 2009.
- Fewer children are living in areas of air pollution (69 percent in 2008, 59 percent in 2009).
- Math scores among eighth-graders rose two points from 2007 to 2009.
- Math scores for 12th graders rose three points from 2005 to 2009.
The bad trends are as follows:
- More eighth-graders are using illegal drugs, from 8 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2010.
- Fewer children are living with a parent who is employed full time, down from 75 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2009.
- More children are living in poverty, up from 19 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2009.
- More children are living in crowded housing, physically inadequate housing or housing that costs more than 30 percent of household income — up from 43 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2009.
- The percentage of children with asthma remained the same from 2008 to 2009, but steadily increased from 8.8 percent of all children in 2001 to 9.6 percent in 2009.
According to ChildStats.gov, 41 percent of all births in the United States are to unmarried women. “That’s more than double the percent in 1980, which was 18.4 percent,” Sondik said. These infants are more likely to be of low birth-weight and live in poverty, he added.
Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that, “while not earth-shattering,” the report is important because it can guide policies that affect children.