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KRUSE REPORT: Understanding the Needs of our Children
Start Date: 12/21/2012Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 12/21/2012End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description

By State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn)

As our children grow and develop, the environment and community they are raised in greatly impact their lives. From the safety of their neighborhood to the characteristics of their home-life, the smallest factors can make a major difference in their lifelong well-being.

The Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) – a non-profit group focused on providing community resources for youth organizations – examined these factors more closely at its 2012 Kids Count Conference earlier this month. The Institute’s data about the state of Hoosier children can help families, friends, school leaders and state officials in determining how to better serve and protect our kids.

Currently, 1.6 million Hoosiers – 25 percent of the population – are under the age of 18. This is a 1.5 percent increase from Indiana’s youth population in 2000. Since then, the demographics and, therefore, needs and behaviors of our children have greatly changed.

The average Indiana family has three people, and children live in a variety of home situations. Sixty percent of our youth population have both parents in the same household, and 29 percent live with only one parent. Unfortunately, according to the Search Institute – a non-profit family research organization – only 68 percent of U.S. children reportedly have strong family support.

Community demographics play an important role in child development as well. A majority – 86 percent – of Hoosier families with children say they live in a neighborhood that is safe, but many do not have access to parks or playgrounds, connections with caring neighbors or close proximity to grocery stores. 

According to IYI, these environmental factors greatly affect a child’s overall well-being in relation to their development. Young people with stable homes and caring neighborhoods are more likely to avoid risky behaviors or situations and make responsible life decisions.

But many children still choose to make potentially unsafe choices. The Indiana State Department of Health’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reported that for the first time in the 2000s, more than half (51 percent) of Hoosier high school students have had sex, placing Indiana above the national average of 47 percent. Of those students, only 58 percent said they used condoms during their last sexual encounter, contributing to a national teen birth rate of 20.8 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 17.

Alcohol and drug use is also a concern among Hoosier youth. The Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use found an increase from last year in over-the-counter drug abuse among sixth-graders in our state. The survey also reported children who try drugs and alcohol usually do so between the ages of 13 and 14, and almost half of Indiana 12th graders have experienced a hangover at least once.

The mental health of students is another issue raising a red flag. The YRBS noted that 29.1 percent of Hoosier high school students felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more consecutive weeks, compared to 28.5 percent nationally. It also reported 18.9 percent of high school students seriously considered suicide in 2011 with 13.6 percent making a plan and 11 percent attempting suicide.

I encourage all parents and community members to talk to the young people in their lives and find ways to provide a safe, secure environment for them. While you may feel as though you are not having a significant effect on them, your efforts could mean the difference between a child making positive choices or harmful ones.

What do you think?

Contact Information:
Name: Tracy Lytwyn
Phone: 317-234-9221
Email: tlytwyn@iga.in.gov
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Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • IN.gov Category:
  • Family & Health
  • Agency Name
    Senate Republican Caucus

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