There are a lot of myths about how children use electronic media, highlighted in our recent volume, Children and Electronic Media. A longer version of this “Myth Busters” piece and other related highlights are posted on our website.
As recently reported in The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a far reaching anti-obesity campaign in an effort to reverse the trend of growing waistlines. The initiative includes a proposal to provide “BMI Report Cards” to Massachusetts school children. Under this plan, public schools would be required to measure the height and weight of 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th grade students and calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI) with this data to determine if a student is overweight. That information would be sent home with the student, along with detailed advice on proper nutrition and exercise.
As recently reported in USA Today, a report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that between 2005 and 2006, the teen birth rate increased in 26 states, reversing a 14-year decline in teen birth rates. While states that historically had the lowest birth rates showed non-significant changes (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), states with already high teen birth rates (Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas) showed increases, leaving Mississippi with the highest rate of 68.4 births for every 1,000 female teen ages 15-19. Alaska showed the greatest increase in teen birth rates (up 19%), while the District of Columbia reported the most dramatic decline in rates (down 24%).
The numbers do not bode well for child wellbeing. In study after study, research has shown that children born and raised in single mother households are poorer than other children, and that other negative child outcomes follow. Children born to teen unmarried mothers, who often interrupt schooling to have their babies, are most vulnerable. A Hoffman and Foster study cited in a recent volume of the Future of Children volume on Poverty estimated that delaying childbearing among teens would increase median family income by a factor of 1.5 to 2.2, and reduce poverty rates by even more.