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Report: Indiana youth making progress despite challenges

Image by Kris from Pixabay
The newly released 2024 Kids Count Data Book finds the well-being of Indiana is better this year than last.
More than 1.5 million children live in Indiana, where research showed fewer of them live in poverty, face food insecurities and are involved in behaviors like underage drinking and illicit drug use.
Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, said the findings shed light on the realities and experiences of Indiana’s younger generation.
“We rank 13th for education, 16th for economic well-being, 29th for health and 31st for family and community,” Silverman outlined. “When we’re looking all around, we’re at 24th, so we know that the ‘state of the child’ in Indiana is good. 24th is still in the middle.”
Silverman pointed out there is more work to do as Hoosiers grow up in a rapidly changing world marked by disruptions, from the global pandemic to finding their way through a world where technology and social media can heavily weigh on them.
He noted while the state is moving the needle in the right direction in several categories, the indicators for youth mental health are alarming.
“The percentage of high school students who felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks was up to 36% in 2022,” Silverman reported. “Indiana ranks 10th for children at risk of depression; we’re 15th for youth at risk of suicidal ideations.”
Indiana has seen a decline in teen birthrates but infant mortality is on the rise.
Silverman added the state is also working hard to improve literacy, especially for third graders.
“Fifty-nine percent of them can’t read at a level that they’re comfortable with,” Silverman pointed out. “In fact, there’s some pretty large initiatives focused on that. And right now, there’s a goal the state has set that 95% of third graders will be able to read by 2027.”

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