Report finds black children in Md. still at increased risk

July 14, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The well-being of children in Maryland has improved on many fronts, including reductions in teen pregnancies and arrest rates, but racial disparity still puts African-American children at increased risk, according to a report being released today by the Maryland Kids Count Partnership.

"The gains for young people are very unevenly distributed," said Jann Jackson, executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth Inc. "We are still failing to narrow the racial gap."

While the rate of violent deaths among African-American juveniles decreased between 1992 and 2002 by 10 percent, the rate of violent deaths among white youths decreased by 17 percent, according to the report. And while fewer African-American infants are dying, they are still nearly 2 1/2 times more likely to die before their first birthday as compared to white babies.

Some results are deceptive. While the percentage of white babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds increased between 1992 and 2002 by 22 percent, the rate of low birth weights among African-American babies decreased by 3 percent. Still, African-American babies are nearly twice as likely to be born tiny.

"These disparate statistics tell a story, and it's a troubling one," said Jennean Everett-Reynolds, director of the Kids Count Project at Advocates for Children and Youth. "We hope that this report will serve as a call to action for Maryland legislators and policy-makers to develop and implement strategies aimed at addressing this."

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