Md. survey finds decline in infant mortality Child poverty, violence up, report finds

July 02, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

An annual survey that monitors the well-being of Maryland's children has found slight improvements in the rates of infant mortality and teen pregnancy.

But the survey released last week also shows alarming increases in violence against children and the number of children living in poverty.

The 1995 Maryland's Kids Count Factbook, a four-year survey funded by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, found improvement in 10 of 14 indicators used to measure the well-being of children in the areas of economics, health, safety and education.

Among the improvements:

* The infant mortality rate declined to 9.5 percent per 1,000 live births from 11.3 percent between 1985 and 1989.

* The 39,071 births to teen-age mothers in the past four years, 10.1 percent of all births, was down from the 41,682 births, or 11.4 percent of the total, in the previous four years.

Although any improvement is good news, the results are hardly cause for celebration, said Jan Schmidt, director of Community Outreach Programs for Advocates for Children & Youth.

"The really sad part is the percentage of children living in poverty," which increased from 10.9 percent, or 124,149 children, in 1989 to 15 percent, or 186,942 children, in 1993, she said.

The survey also found that one-third of children living in poverty had at least one parent who worked full time 50 weeks of the year.

"So there's also that frustration in that they're doing what they've been asked to do, which is work hard, and they're still in poverty," Schmidt said.

Advocates said that particularly alarming findings of the survey are the jump in violent deaths among teen-agers and the rise in the number of arrests for violent crimes among juveniles.

Violent deaths among teens increased from 60.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1986-1989 to 68.6 between 1990 and 1993. In 1993, homicide and accidents each accounted for about 45 percent of teen-age violent deaths, with suicide accounting for the rest.

The Maryland survey was conducted in conjunction with a national Kids Count survey, which was released last month.

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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