at a Glance
AT A GLANCE
2004 Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook
Focus Section – A State Profile: Youth and Young
Adults Building Oklahoma’ s Future
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.
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
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
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
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.
State Profile: Youth and Young Adults Building Oklahoma’s
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.