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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Louisiana is Still the Worst State Nationwide for Children, Report Says

From The New Orleans Times-Picayune

By Wilborn P. Nobles III
June 08, 2018

Louisiana is the state where childhood is the most threatened in the country, according to a report from Save the Children.

The international aid group's annual End of Childhood report released May 30 stated Louisiana falls at No. 50 in state-by-state rankings, which are determined by averaging a state's rankings in infant deaths, violent deaths, adolescent birth rates, high school students not graduating on time, and food security and malnutrition.

"This year's End of Childhood Report and U.S. Complement again demonstrates that we are far from realizing the vision where all children survive and thrive," the report states. "Millions of children in the United States and around the world are excluded from progress, especially those living in marginalized, vulnerable communities."

The report gauges the best and worst places in the U.S. for children to have a safe, secure and healthy childhood. "Mississippi and Louisiana remain in the bottom two positions, 49 and 50, for the second year in a row," the report stated. Scroll down to see how Louisiana scored in the report.



Methodology and Sources

Save the Children's report stated the data used in the research was obtained from U.S. Government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics. Data was also obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rankings track events described in the report as "Childhood enders" to determine a state's ability to protect its children. Those events include child deaths, child malnourishment rates, high school dropout rates, child homicide and suicide rates, and teen birth rates.

"Depending on the number and severity of enders experienced, the loss of childhood could be complete or only partial. But once a child experiences an ender, childhood becomes fractured rather than complete," the report stated.

Read or download the entire report HERE (PDF; 32 pages).

David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Infant Mortality Rank: 47th

Louisiana's infant mortality rate in 2016 was 8.0 per 1,000 live births as the state saw 503 babies die before they turned 1. In comparison, Louisiana ranked 46th in the nation in 2015 for infant mortality, with 498 babies dying before they turned 1.

Alabama ranked worst in infant deaths in 2016, with 9.1 deaths per 1,000 births. Alabama experienced 537 infant deaths that year.


Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Homicide and Suicide Rank: 47th

In Louisiana, 129 children ages 19 and below were killed via homicide or suicide in 2016, creating a homicide and suicide rate of 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people that year.

Montana had the worst rate, losing 14.2 of 100,000 people, in 2016.



Food Insecurity Rank: 44th

Louisiana in 2015 had a child food insecurity rate of 23.4 percent, as the state found that 261,230 children under 18 live in households experiencing limited or uncertain access to food. The report stated 2015 is the latest year available for child food insecurity rates by state.

Mississippi identified 191,750 children with food insecurity. The state's 26.3 percent food insecurity rate cemented its place as the worst state nationwide in food insecurity among children.


High School Dropout Rank: 46th

The latest high school graduation rates are slowly rising in Louisiana, and Save the Children's report acknowledges that conditions have improved since last year's report. Among Louisiana's graduates in the 2015-16 school year, 21.4 percent of its high school students did not graduate on time.

New Mexico had the worst rate, with 29 percent of its high school students not graduating on time.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Teen Births Rank: 45th

Louisiana maintained its previous rank at No. 45 in teen birth and pregnancy rates, with 4,545 births recorded among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2016. The state had 30.6 teen births per 1,000 girls in that age range in that year.

Arkansas once again ranked lowest, with 34.6 in 1,000 teenagers giving birth.


Chris Granger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Child Poverty Rank: 45th

The report this year also includes a new state-by-state analysis on child poverty in the U.S., which focuses on child poverty rates in rural and urban areas in 2016. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report found that 35.1 percent of Louisiana's rural children live in poverty, and 27.3 percent of the state's urban children live in poverty as well.

"Severe rates of rural poverty are also found in Georgia, Louisiana and South Dakota, where, in some counties, two-thirds or more of rural children live in poverty," according to the report, which also stated Louisiana is one of the five states with the highest urban child poverty rates.

Arizona was ranked lowest with a 36.2 percent rural child poverty rate, although its urban child poverty rate of 22.8 percent is somewhat lower than Louisiana's urban rate of child poverty.

U.S. World Ranking: 36th

In this year's analysis, the report ranks the United States 36th, between Belarus and Russia. Although the country's overall score increased by four points since last year's End of Childhood Report, researchers wrote that progress is slow as conditions remain troubling for America's children.

"Save the Children's second annual End of Childhood State Ranking reveals children in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire are far more likely to experience safe, secure and healthy childhoods than children in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico," the report stated.

The report stated that poverty, conflict and discrimination against girls are putting more than 1.2 billion children -- over half of children around the globe -- at risk for an "early end" to their childhood.

Matthew Hinton, Times-Picayune Archive

Solutions?

Save the Children is urging the federal, state and local governments to "respond and invest accordingly" to resolve the persistent child poverty seen in rural communities across the U.S. "It is imperative for elected officials to create space for rural voices to inform policy decisions," the report stated.

The report also stated that quality early childhood programs will save taxpayers money in the long run. It cites a 2016 report from Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman that shows the rate of return on investments in early childhood development for disadvantaged children can be 13 percent per child, per year, due to improved outcomes in education, health, sociability and economic productivity.

"This will require the government to invest in children, ensure all children are treated equally and count and include all children, regardless of who they are or where they are from," the report concluded.

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