Overview and Findings

Most picking up this book want to lessen the difficulties faced by many of Oklahoma's children – child abuse and neglect, poverty, violence, crime, teen pregnancy. For many of us public debates and private soul searching have not provided clear answers about where to begin. There are few clear distinctions between causes and consequences. In the pages which follow you will find much to suggest that causes and consequences are inextricably linked. Children born to teen mothers are more likely to repeat the cycle of teen childbearing. Child abuse victims later become abusers. Poor children are more likely to quit high school without graduating, and youth not graduating from high school face lives of poverty.

Oklahoma's very young – infants, toddlers and preschool children – are the focus of this edition of the Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook. With all the issues facing children today, why concentrate on early childhood? Precisely because of the difficulties faced by many of Oklahoma's children – child abuse and neglect, poverty, violence, crime, teen pregnancy. Attending to Oklahoma's youngest holds the promise of Oklahoma's future. A hope of breaking the cycle. A promise of less abuse and neglect, less poverty, less violence, less crime, fewer children having children.

The time is now. There is not one more child to waste. First, we must marshal a serious effort to reduce teen pregnancy, lessen poverty and eliminate child abuse.

The rewards will include better care and education for Oklahoma's infants, toddlers and preschool children. Second, we must marshal a serious effort to improve the care and education of Oklahoma's infants, toddlers and preschool children. The rewards will include fewer Oklahoma children having children, living in poverty or suffering abuse. The problems are complex, but not without promising solutions. Community understanding, combined with action, will improve the well-being of today's children and secure a safe, healthy and happy future for tomorrow's.

The Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Partnership, a project of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), uses key strategies to achieve its goal. First, KIDS COUNT "counts kids," providing accurate and up-to-date data on the status of Oklahoma's children and youth. Second, KIDS COUNT cultivates leadership on behalf of children and youth, giving voice to their needs at the local level. Third, KIDS COUNT communicates the needs of children and youth, using extensive public awareness activities.

The Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook uses benchmarks to profile the status of children and youth in our state. Benchmarks are quantifiable measures that, when taken together, help determine child, family and community well-being. The seven benchmarks in this KIDS COUNT Factbook are low birthweight infants, infant mortality, births to young teens, child abuse & neglect, child death, high school dropouts and juvenile violent crime arrests. This book, the sixth Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook, shows the interrelatedness of these benchmarks and how they impact each other.

From an established baseline, OICA is tracking progress, or the lack of progress, for each benchmark over time. Progress requires action. Progress requires using all of this information – and more – to make good decisions about state and community budgets and programs that affect children and youth. Effective programs and policies work together with strong communities and families to improve the benchmarks.

More than one in every four Oklahomans (26.3%) is a child. One in four (23.7%) of those children live in poverty. Today, almost eight hundred eighty thousand (879,367) children live, play and go to school in Oklahoma communities. Most young people in Oklahoma are doing well most of the time.

There is good news. Oklahoma KIDS COUNT reveals that only two of the seven benchmarks tracked worsened when compared to data from a dozen years ago:

Low birthweight infants

Child abuse & neglect

Five benchmarks improved over the comparable older data:

Infant mortality

Births to young teens

Child death

High school dropouts

Juvenile violent crime arrests

There is bad news. The improved rates obscure the challenges faced by large numbers of young Oklahomans each year. More than two hundred thousand (210,470) Oklahoma children live in poverty. More than fifteen thousand (15,518) are abused or neglected. Almost ten thousand (9,289) quit high school. More than one thousand (1,089) are arrested for murder, rape, aggravated assault or robbery.

Download PDF File with this narrative and a color chart on the seven benchmarks.

Next: Focus on Early Childhood Care and Education


PDF Downloads
Press Release
Everyday in Oklahoma
Kids Count Leadership
Overview & Findings
Focus on Early Childhood
State Benchmarks
County Benchmarks
Understanding the Data
Data Tables

Copyright 2001

Oklahoma Institute for
Child Advocacy, Inc.
420 N.W. 13th Street
Suite 101
Oklahoma City 73103
Phone: 405-236-KIDS (5437)
Fax: 405-236-KIDX (5439)

More Online Information
related to Children at-risk