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Copyright 2004

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

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Facts at a Glance

2004 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook

Focus Section – A State Profile: Youth and Young Adults Building Oklahoma’ s Future

The Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook provides accurate and up-to-date data on the status of Oklahoma’s children and youth. Annually, the book tracks the same child well-being indcators for the state as a whole and for each of its 77 counties. Additionally, each year it focuses on one key area affecting the state’s children.

Indicators of Child, Family and Community Well-Being
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. From an established baseline, this ninth Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook tracks progress, or the lack of progress, over time for six indicators. It also introduces new baseline data for high school dropouts.

There is good news. Four benchmarks improved over the comparable data from the middle of the 1980’s, including infant mortality, births to young teens, child deaths and juvenile violent crime arrests.

There is bad news. Two of the benchmarks tracked worsened when compared to data from the middle of the 1980’s, including low birthweight and child abuse and neglect.

• Low Birthweight – Each year almost thirty-nine hundred Oklahoma babies (3,877 annual average) are born too small (weighing less than 5 1⁄2 pounds). During the most recent three-year period (2000-2002) the proportion of Oklahoma babies born too small slowly and steadily continued to worsen (increasing from 7.3% to 7.8% of all births) when compared to the three year period just two years earlier (1998-2000).

• Infant Mortality – The rate of Oklahoma infants who die in their first year of life improved slightly during the most recent three years (2000-2002) when compared to the three year period just two years earlier (1999-2000). Oklahoma infant death rates dropped from 8.4 to 7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

• Births to Young Teens – The rate of births to Oklahoma young teens continued its modest decline (from 33.0 to 31.1 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 17) during the most recent three years (2000-2002) when compared to the three-year period two years earlier (1998-2000). For the most recent three year period, an average of about seventy-six hundred (7,606) babies were born to Oklahoma women under the age of twenty.

• Child Abuse and Neglect – For the most recent two-year period (Fiscal Year 2002-Fiscal Year 2003) on average, over thirteen thousand (13,253) of the incidents assessed or investigated each year were found to be actual abuse and/or neglect. While Oklahoma child abuse and/or neglect is declining from the record high rates posted during the late 1990’s, current rates (15.0 confirmations per 1,000 children) remain substantially higher than in the mid-1980’s (9.0 confirmations per 1,000 children).

• Child Deaths – During the most recent three-year period an average of three hundred seventy-five children and youth from the ages of 1 through 19 died each year. A lower rate (28.5 per 100,000) of children from the ages of 1 through 14 die currently than did in the mid-1980’s (41.5 per 100,000).

• High School Dropouts – Changes in state data collection methods currently prevent comparisons over time for high school dropouts. During the most recent two-year period (School Year 2001/2002 and School Year 2002/2003) an annual average of more than eight thousand (8,080) young Oklahomans quit school without graduating.

• Juvenile Violent Crime Arrests – During the most recent three-year period (2000-2002) about a thousand (1,001) Oklahoma youths from the ages of 10 through 17 were arrested each year for committing violent crimes. During this period the proportion of Oklahoma youths in this age range arrested for violent cremes decreased slightly when compared to the three-year period just two years earlier (1998-2000). Oklahoma violent crime arrest rates for this age group moved from 251.4 to 246.7 per 100,000 youth.


A State Profile: Youth and Young Adults Building Oklahoma’s Future

More than a third of all Oklahomans (35.8%, or 1,250,816) are younger than twenty-five years of age. Almost half of those (529,773) are over the age of 14, perched on the very edge of adulthood. Why do some young people succeed and others do not? In 2004, the KIDS COUNT Factbook takes this initial look at how teens and young adults are faring in Oklahoma, highlighting some promising approaches to complex situations.

Circumstances Which Make Oklahoma Youth Vulnerable to Negative Consequences

• Poverty – Currently, more than one hundred thousand (101,759, ages 15 through 24) young Oklahomans live in poverty. This translates into one in every five (21.4%) teens and young adults in Oklahoma living in poverty.

• Disconnected Youth (Not Working and not in School) – Almost twenty thousand Oklahoma youth (19,758, ages 16 through 19), or one in ten (9.3%), are not engaged in either school or work.

• Births to Older Teens – More than five thousand older teen females are already mothers (5,150, ages 18 and 19). Births to older teens (ages 18 and 19) comprise over two-thirds (67.7%) of all teen births in Oklahoma each year. Oklahoma birth rates for older teens (96.9 per 1,000 females ages 18 and 19, 2002) far exceed national rates (72.8 per 1,000 females ages 18 and 19, 2002).

• Teens Living in Foster Care – Almost seven hundred (660, ages 15 through 17) teens live in foster care each month. Each year, the number of older youth in Oklahoma foster care steadily increases.

• Arrests of Teens for Drug and Alcohol Related Offenses – Each year, more than thirty-five hundred (3,592, ages 15 through 17) arrests of teens for drug or alcohol crimes are made in Oklahoma. Drug and alcohol arrests among youth ages 15 through 17 are four times more likely to be males than females.

• Violent and Accidental Teen Death – One hundred sixty-five Oklahoma teens (ages 15 through 19) die accidental or violent deaths each year. Four of every five Oklahoma teen deaths (81.8%) were the result of accidents or violence.

Behaviors Which Make Oklahoma Youth Vulnerable to Negative Consequences

The 2004 KIDS COUNT Factbook uses a variety of sources when collecting data. This year it incorporates data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS monitors health risk behaviors that contribute to death, disability and social problems among young people. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and local public high schools collaborated to complete the first statewide survey which can be compared to national data. The Factbook used this survey and other sources to identify data about the following behaviors.

• Behaviors Contributing to Injuries and Violence – During the 30 days preceding the YRBS, almost a third (30.6%) of Oklahoma high school students had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. More than twenty percent (21.8%) had carried a weapon during the 30 days preceding the survey.

• Behaviors Contributing to Addiction, Dependence and Substance Abuse – The YRBS documented that cigarettes had been tried by two thirds (64.1%) of Oklahoma’s high school students. Four of every five (78.6%) high school students admit to already having tried alcohol at some time in the past.

• Behaviors Contributing to Unintended Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted
Disease –
Half (50.0%) of Oklahoma’s high school students report that they have already engaged in sexual intercourse. About two-thirds (64.3%) of the currently sexually active high school students (or their partner) used condoms during their most recent sexual encounter.


What Works – Linking Positive Youth Development with Risk Reduction
Historically, programs attempting to help young people avoid risk-taking behaviors used a “problem” approach – focusing on the risks, trying to increase what young people know about them and trying to change attitudes. Less attention was paid to what assets or “protective factors” each young person had internally or in their environment that might help buffer them against risk. With sufficient protection, a young person’s resiliency can help them beat the odds. Over the past several years research has accumulated to demonstrate that programs which develop youth assets, combined with those that reduce risk-taking behaviors, hold the promise to help Oklahoma’s youth successfully grow to be productive adults.

The 2004 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook concludes by suggesting ways that families, communities and the state can work with youth to ensure that they are fully prepared.