NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Connecticut News

Save The Children: U.S. #36 In 'End Of Childhood' Index

Courtesy of Save the Children
Children in a classroom in South Carolina.

On Wednesday, Connecticut-based Save the Children released its second annual End of Childhood Index. It’s part of an international report that compares countries by a number of life changing events that could rob children of their childhood.  

For the second year in a row, the United States ranked 36 out of 175 countries. Right near Belarus and Kuwait.  

Save the Children also gauges similar conditions for each state in the U.S. They look at five specific factors: infant mortality, food insecurity, failure to complete high school, child homicide and suicide rates, and teen pregnancy.

Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, recently spoke to All Things Considered Host Bill Buchner about the organization's findings. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Why does the United States rank 36 on the Index?

The pat answer is that we don’t invest enough in our children here in the United States, and one of the things we found in the report is you also see a big disparity for rural children in the United States. So the biggest impacts on these [childhood] enders is actually looking at kids living in rural poverty in the U.S.

Connecticut improved its ranking. It now ranks number 5 out of all 50 states. So what’s improved here?

Actually, in the case of Connecticut, everything improved a little bit. So we looked at infant mortality rates and that rate improved. 174 babies in 2016 died before their first birthday, but that actually got better. Connecticut made slight improvements on food insecurity, so hunger, number of kids that were living in hunger in Connecticut. Small progress on high school graduation rates, that was the third thing. And lowest, actually the lowest measured rate of child homicides in the United States. And then finally, teen pregnancy rates actually got better as well. So on all the five measures, we got a little bit better in Connecticut.

Were these improvements the result of any new policies that were put in place in this past year?

I think there have been investments in things like teen pregnancy and then in terms of healthcare, and there has definitely been an increased focus on high school graduation rates here in Connecticut, and I think those things have helped, particularly in places like Bridgeport.

Credit Courtesy of Save the Children

New York held steady. It ranks 11th again this year.

Well, and I think the difference in terms of both New York and Connecticut versus some of those other states you see in the ranking, is again the measurements are so much worse for rural children. And if you look at certainly Connecticut, we don’t have a huge rural population. New York has a little bit bigger rural population. But if you look at the bottom of the Index, you look at places like Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona, very large rural areas, and that’s where kids are most missing out on a childhood.

Credit Courtesy of Save the Children

And among the states, I understand, New Jersey ranked number one, why is that?

New Jersey did rank number one. And I think if you look at New Jersey, again, the investments they’ve made in things like healthcare for adolescents, in high school graduation rates, there’s a big push in New Jersey. And again, very few rural areas in New Jersey. It’s mostly suburban and urban areas in New Jersey and we know that those kids have more services and more capability to get the education and healthcare they need.

Did you apply the Index to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands?

We didn’t apply the Index, as far as I know, in those places. But we’re actually working in Puerto Rico following the hurricane last year. And I can tell you the issues for children there are quite severe. Particularly on things like education and healthcare. The ability to build that infrastructure back has been very, very slow as people know. And the statistics there in Puerto Rico were very difficult for kids to start with. So, I think that Puerto Rico is definitely a place where Save the Children will continue to work and focus.

Read Save the Children's 2018 End of Childhood Report.

Read Growing Up Rural in America, the U.S. Complement to the 2018 End of Childhood Report.