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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Children's Well-Being Index at a standstill

Why is it that the UK can do something as pro-active as banning the advertising of junk food on TV programs that target young children, but here in the US, all we manage to do is document the problem? Childhood obesity is such a growing problem in the U.S. that it's a major reason why the Children's Well-Being Index has come to a stall after an upward trend early in the decade. The 2007 Index was released today.

The Foundation for Child Development is the keeper of this Index, which has been published for 30 years and is based on seven indicators of quality of life for children among white, African American and Hispanic families. One of its measures is children's safety, which has been trending up for a bunch of years, primarily because teen pregnancy and drug and alochol use has been down among teens, according to the report.

The value of the Index is that it offers policy makers a snapshot of how children are doing over time in our society. In 2002, for instance, it was showing a strong positive trajectory, which is now discounted by the experts: "That uptick ...was most likely an anomaly and a direct outgrowth of the nation coming together in response to the horrors of 9/11. In that year, parents got more involved in their children's lives," says Kenneth Land, a sociology professor at Duke University and project coordinator of the Index.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 10:27 AM
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