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.

Family Structure and Family Formation among Low-Income Hispanics in the U.S.

fam formation brief coverWhile National Hispanic Heritage Month ends October 15, the importance of celebrating Hispanic achievements and exploring issues relevant to Hispanic families continues year-round. Today, the National Research Center for Hispanic Children & Families, funded by a grant from the Office of Research, Planning and Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, releases its first report— Family Structure and Family Formation Among Low-Income Hispanics in the  U.S.

Hispanic Americans have been a fundamental part of the U.S. landscape since this country’s inception. In fact, Hispanics were the first settlers of what is today the southwest of the United States. (The umbrella terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used interchangeably to refer to people of Latin American or Spanish ancestry, regardless of country of origin.) In 2013, there were approximately 54 million Hispanics living in the United States, making up 17 percent of the total U.S. population, and the number continues to grow, shifting national demographics. As the Hispanic population has grown, another important demographic shift has occurred: a shift in how families form. Fewer people are marrying and many more births are occurring outside of marriage. However, changes in family structure have not impacted all racial/ethnic groups in the same way, and we know less about Hispanic families than we do about many other groups. Read More

Integrative Housing Policies Can Improve Education Opportunities for Low-Income Kids

school busLow-income students across the United States attend schools with lower average test scores than students whose families have higher incomes. These families are often unable to access high-performing schools because housing is expensive in the neighborhoods where these schools are located. In the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, housing is 2.4 times as expensive in neighborhoods with high-performing schools than in neighborhoods with low-performing schools. Since Hispanic and black families are more likely to have low incomes, this housing landscape perpetuates segregation of racial and ethnic minority families into high-poverty neighborhoods and schools. Many studies have found that increases in poverty and racial and ethnic segregation in schools are associated with inferior student performance. In short, the doors to academic success are closed early for many low-income and minority children. Read More

Evaluating School Initiatives for Better Outcomes

boy idea lightbulbSchools across the country are beginning new school-based initiatives to address and improve the social, emotional, and academic needs of their students. Whether with the help of the recently funded “Now is The Time” grant programs (Project PREVENT, Project AWARE, and the School Climate Transformation Grants) or developed internally, schools are implementing new programs, collecting new data, and working towards better outcomes. In the process, it is easy to overlook perhaps the most central of questions – how do we know whether the programs that are being implemented are actually improving outcomes? Even the most evidence-based program may be ineffective for certain schools  or groups of students(Bumbarger, Perkins, & Greenberg, 2010).

It is critical, then, to continually evaluate both program implementation and impact. Not all evaluations are useful, however. Here are five things to consider for evaluating new initiatives: Read More

Will Recent Progress in Academic Achievement Translate into Broader Gains in the Well-Being of Hispanic Youth?

With the school year just begun, the U.S. reaches a watershed: for the first time in our history, racial minorities comprise the majority of students in public schools. How our schools, our other institutions, and we as individuals respond to this new demography will have much to say about our shared future.

The largest of these minority groups is Hispanic/Latino—a category of great diversity in itself. Today, one in four U.S. children is Latino; by 2050, it will be one in three—about the same proportion who will be white/non-Latino.

As Child Trends’ report, America’s Hispanic Children: Gaining Ground, Looking Forward, shows, the recent progress of Hispanic children in America—particularly in the area of education—is remarkable on its face.

improvement in ed indicators graph Read More

Playful Banter or Bullying? Whose Perception Matters

(Also appears on Huffington Post)

How do we define and measure bullying? This is the question that continues to plague bullying prevention researchers, policymakers, and advocates alike. In his latest blog post, Dr. Justin Patchin ponders on the interactions between his adult friends, who actively tease, mock, and exclude each other, and suggests that perhaps some of our traditional techniques of measuring bullying, such as by asking youth if they’d ever been called mean or hurtful names, may be mis-capturing these friendly interactions. As Patchin writes,

“Often our research approaches don’t allow us to accurately distinguish between good-natured ribbing and malevolent meanness. As I have argued previously, I don’t believe that bullying can be done unintentionally. Even though someone’s feelings can certainly be hurt without intent, bullying by definition is deliberate.”

The issues Patchin ponders in his piece come down to a simple point – whose perspective matters when it comes to bullying—an objective observer, the one engaging in the behavior, or the one who feels bullied? Patchin seems to argue that for behavior to be bullying, the one doing the bullying has to consciously intend to hurt someone else. In other words, for bullying to be bullying, it is the perpetrator’s perspective that matters. This makes sense when our primary intervention strategies revolve around punishing, criminalizing, or otherwise solely addressing the one doing the bullying. If youth are joking around with friends it’s easy to shrug off the behavior, but when we look deeper things become even more complicated. Read More