The Children’s Defense Fund is an over-40-year-old nonprofit organization advocating for children throughout the country, particularly poor children, children of color, and children with disabilities. It recently released The State of America’s Children 2017, a summary of national and state data measuring the status of children in 11 areas: child population, child poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child hunger and nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice and gun violence.
In the report, there is an overview of the frequency of negative incidents in just one day in this country (statistics are worse for children of color):
Each Day in America for All Children
- 2 mothers die from complications of childbirth.
- 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect.
- 7 children or teens commit suicide.
- 8 children or teens are killed with a gun.
- 22 children or teens die from accidents.
- 37 children or teens are injured with a gun.
- 45 children or teens are injured or killed with a gun.
- 64 babies die before their first birthday.
- 167 children are arrested for violent crimes.
- 311 children are arrested for drug crimes.
- 566 babies are born to teen mothers.
- 589 public school students are corporally punished.
- 879 babies are born with low birthweight.
- 912 babies are born into extreme poverty.
- 1,414 babies are born without health insurance.
- 1,759 babies are born into poverty.
- 1,854 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
- 2,805 children are arrested.
- 2,857 high school students drop out.
- 4,388 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
- 12,816 public school students are suspended.
In Iowa specifically:
- 20% of children lack adequate food
- 7,000 school-age children are homeless
- 1/3 of 4th graders read at or above the proficient level
- 2% of kids are exposed to drug use in their home
- 12,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect
- 10% of children report they do not live in a happy home
- 7% of youth report seriously considering suicide last year
- 20,000 children in Polk County were living below the poverty line
- 80% of children with mental health needs never receive treatment
- 45% are hopeful for the future
We’ve long known that reaching girls early in life can make a difference in many of these areas. Program evaluations document that girls in Chrysalis After-School programs report:
- increased sense of hope for the future
- increased intent to finish high school
- improved ability to resist peer pressure
- more willingness to take responsibility for their actions
- greater understanding that working hard today will make life a success in the future (at a much higher rate than other Iowa girls)
*as compared to the Iowa Youth Survey and Gallup Student Poll
We heard this week from 2 young women who are Chrysalis high school peer mentors, who shared their experiences to the 140+ guests at the Chrysalis Conversations luncheon. It was rewarding to recognize the poise, leadership, and vision these and other peer mentors gain through this experience. With the guidance of Brooke Findley, Chrysalis Director of Community Initiatives and Investments, these young women prove that it only takes one caring adult to make a difference in the life of a child.
I, for one, am proud to know that through her support, and because of the many “touchpoints” of Chrysalis After-School and our community grantees, we can change the future for so many.