Posted Jan. 28, 2008 – The health gap is closing between minority and White children, and other social indicators show improvement as well.
Black and Hispanic children have made significant gains in health, safety and income over the past two decades, narrowing gaps between them and White children, according to a pioneering report on child development to be released Tuesday.
They still fare worse overall than Whites, USA Today reports. However, they are catching up in several areas and are less likely than Whites to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, abuse drugs or commit suicide, according to the report.
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The report was sponsored by the Foundation for Child Development, a philanthropy that funds research on children.
“There's a long way to go, but this is an enormous closing of the gap," says co-author Donald Hernandez, a sociology professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
He says the overall gap between Black and White children closed by one-fourth, and between Hispanics and Whites by one-third.
"That's stunning. I was frankly surprised by the extent of it," Hernandez says.
The report studied how children fared from 1985 to 2004, based on 28 indicators of income, education, health, safety, social relationships and community involvement. It combines them for a score known as a child well-being index.
It found that children, especially minorities, fared worse in the 1980s but made significant gains in the mid- to late-1990s.
Among the report's findings: Obesity rates rose less for Black and Hispanic children, although they remain higher than for Whites; poverty rates, though still much higher for Blacks and Hispanics, dropped more dramatically than they did for Whites; the rate of serious crimes committed by Black youths fell 80 percent and by Hispanics 65 percent, and Hispanic youths are less likely than Whites to commit crimes or to be victims of crime.
For more on how Black children faired in education and other areas, view the full report findings here.