The State of America's Children
A Continuing Portrait of Inequality 50 Years After
Brown vs. Board of Education
July 14, 2004
Washington, DC - This week the
Children's Defense Fund (CDF) released The State of America's
Children 2004, which provides a comprehensive examination of
how children are faring in our country. The book paints a troubling
picture -- based on the most recent statistical data and analyses
-- of an unacceptably high number of children who are still being
One in six children in the
United States continues to live in poverty. One in eight-9.3
million-children have no health insurance. Three out of five
children under six are cared for by someone other than their
parents on a regular basis. Only 31 percent of fourth graders
read at or above grade level. An estimated three million children
were reported as suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
Almost one in ten teens ages 16 to 19 is a school dropout. Eight
children and teens die from gunfire in the U.S. each day -- one
child every three hours.
"Fifty years after Brown
v. Board of Education and 40 years after President Johnson declared
a War on Poverty, many minority and lower-income children still
lack a fair chance to live, learn, thrive and contribute in America,"
said Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of CDF. "The
great unfinished business of our nation in this first decade
of the 21st century is to open wide the doors of equal education
and economic opportunity to every child in America. It's time
to build a powerful 21st century movement to emancipate our children
from racial injustice and poverty. We must summon the moral,
political, and financial courage to make sure that we truly leave
no child behind."
The State of America's Children
2004 features the most recent data available on our nation's
children and reviews developments in family income and child
poverty, hunger and food assistance, child health, child care,
Head Start and school-age care, education, children and families
in crisis, and juvenile justice and youth development. Graphs
and charts along with the latest and most compelling statistics
clarify the status of children in several key areas:
- Three out of four poor children
live in families where someone worked and one in three poor children
lives with a full- time year-round worker. More than 5.1 million
children live in extremely low-income households spending at
least half of their income on housing.
- Twenty-two million adults
and 13 million children live in households suffering from hunger
or "food insecurity without hunger."
- The richest one-fifth of households
made 10.7 times as much in median income as the poorest one-fifth,
the widest gap on record from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- 9.3 million children lack
health insurance; yet six million of these uninsured children
are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance
Program (CHIP) under current law.
- Infants born to Black mothers
are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday
as infants born to White mothers.
- The number of overweight children
has more than tripled since 1980. Almost nine million young people
are overweight -- over 15 percent of children and adolescents
under age 19.
Child Care, Head Start, and
- Sixty-four percent of mothers
with children under six and 78 percent of mothers with children
ages six to 17 work outside the home.
- In 48 states, the cost of
center-based childcare for a four-year-old is greater than tuition
at a four-year public college.
- The number of children participating
in Head Start has more than doubled during the past three decades,
but currently the program only serves three out of five three-
- Seven out of ten fourth graders
cannot read or do math at grade level.
- Ninety percent of the nation's
children attend public schools. Children in the poorest families
are six times as likely as children in more affluent families
to drop out of high school.
- Three-quarters of the nation's
public schools are in need of repairs, renovations, and modernization.
The average school building is more than 40 years old. Yet states
spend on average almost three times as much per prisoner as per
public school pupil.
Children and Families in Crisis:
- Three million children in
a year are reported abused or neglected and referred for investigation
or assessment; close to 900,000 of them are confirmed as victims
of child maltreatment.
- Child abuse and domestic violence
co-occur in an estimated 30 to 60 percent of the families where
there is some form of family violence.
- The 51,000 children adopted
from foster care in 2002 is almost double the number adopted
in 1995, but more than 126,000 children in foster care continue
to wait for permanent families.
Juvenile Justice and Youth
- The national crime rate has
dropped nearly 25 percent since 1993, but more than one-quarter
of violent crime victims known to police in the U.S. are juveniles.
Youths ages 16 to 19 currently experience overall violence, including
rape and general assault, at higher rates than people in all
other age categories.
- Two-thirds of youths in the
juvenile justice system have one or more diagnosable mental health
disorders. Girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile
justice population: The arrest rate for females under age 18
increased more than 14 percent between 1993 and 2002, while the
rate for males under age 18 decreased.
- More than six million school-age
children are left alone after school without supervision. The
average child watches 28 hours of television a week and by age
18 will have seen more than 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000
simulated murders depicted on the TV screen.
Source of News Release:
Children's Defense Fund
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