Trend Lines Blog

Welcome to Child Trends’ blog, Trend Lines, where we share key findings from child and youth research and offer insights to inform  policies and programs.

Hit Send? Programs Weigh the Pitfalls and Potential of Texting

Teens textingAmong the 88 percent of U.S. teens with cell phones, 91 percent use text messaging. (Among adults, it’s 90 and 81 percent, respectively.) Teens send and receive an average of 30 texts per day. I’m from a pre-texting generation, and I’m not sure I fully understand its popularity. I’m also concerned about the potential for texting (and other uses of handheld electronic media) to distract children, and their parents, from paying attention to safety and the intrinsic value of face-to-face interactions. Read More

Vulnerable Children in the Ledger: The Challenges Facing Child Welfare Agency Budgets

State Child Welfare Policy Database thumbnailEvery other year at Child Trends, we conduct a survey examining the funding streams that support child welfare services in all fifty-state states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the results of which  are featured in a report and through an online database.  The last survey found that, for the first time in nearly 20 years, total spending on child welfare in the U.S. had declined.

Child welfare agencies play a critical role in protecting children and helping families: they are charged with ensuring that children are protected from harm, and have the opportunity to grow up in safe, nurturing, and stable families. State child welfare agencies provide a range of services to children, families, and communities in order to promote the wellbeing of children who have experienced abuse or neglect, or who are at risk of doing so. It’s interesting to look at where and how we, as a country, decide to spend our money, given that we want our kids (and every kid) to be safe and healthy. Read More

Teen birth rates are declining, but the job is not done

1Births to U.S. teenagers are at a historic low. In 2013, there were 26.5 births per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19, compared to 29.4 in 2012 and 41.5 in 2007. This translates to an estimated 11 percent of all teen girls who would have a birth before age 20. This is good news, given the well-documented disadvantages associated with teen childbearing for both the teens and their children.

But the job is not done; the declines in teen births have not occurred among all teens equally, and some teens in the United States remain at higher risk than do other teens. Notably, there is large variation by place of residence and by race/ethnicity—although the extent of even these variations, and their implications, are not fully understood. Read More

All 50 States Now Have a Bullying Law. Now What?

sad teen at schoolOn April 21, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed his state’s anti-bullying law, eliminating the title his state has held for the last few years as the only state without one. The law, which is nothing more than a statement that bullying is not allowed, ends a push that started before Columbine in 1999 to establish laws and policies on bullying across the United States. With every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the other territories now possessing a bullying law, what’s next for the fight against bullying?

It is first critical to ask, what is the purpose of these laws to begin with? The vast majority of the laws, with Montana a notable exception, have but one major requirement – that all schools adopt a bullying prevention policy. Yet, as I found in my work in DC, absent any oversight or technical assistance, which DC has uniquely provided, many schools will not be in compliance with their states’ laws. Read More

Poverty’s Pernicious and Persistent Toll on Young Children

siblingsEvery new parent has expectations that their child will have good health, do well in school, find a good job, and experience happiness in their personal and family life. For children born into poverty, meeting these expectations is much harder.

Children are the poorest age group in the country, and among children, the youngest are the poorest.  In 2013, 20 percent of all children in the U.S. were poor; 24 percent of children under age three were poor.  That’s 2.9 million children. Among black children, 43 percent are poor.  Among Hispanics more than one-third are poor.

At Child Trends, we’ve synthesized the research on the risks that poverty poses to children. The findings underscore the pernicious and persistent effects of poverty: Read More

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