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October 2005
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December 2005

Quote of the day

"Grace is the sense in spite of anxiety, suffering, confusion, and discouragement, that we are accepted by our higher power and that in the long run everything is going to be Okay. As John Newton wrote in his great song, Amazing Grace, ' sweet the sound that saved a poor wretch like me.'"

Harry Holleywood

Who are America's Poor Children?

The National Center for Children In Poverty at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, has posted an interesting article on its web site entitled, "Who Are America's Poor Children?"

The U.S. Census Bureau released numbers in 2004 that show that the poverty rate rose for the fourth year in a row. Now 37 million Americans live below the poverty line. The Bush Administration has pushed its tax cuts for the rich, run up record breaking national deficit levels, while working class Americans slip further and further into poverty. When will Americans wake up to the fact that gay marriage is not the issue they should be electing politicians on?

"The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina exposed glaring truths about poverty in America. Child poverty and material hardship are not just problems experienced by the states in Katrina's path—they are problems that plague Americans around the country. Just as residents began the clean-up process, the U.S. Census Bureau released numbers showing that in 2004, the poverty rate rose for the fourth straight year in a row—37 million Americans live below the poverty line. In the wake of this national tragedy, poverty should once again become a topic of national concern. Now is the time to focus on how to make sure no more children are left behind. This series, Child Poverty in 21st Century America, addresses the challenge."

Ten States with the highest rates of extreme child poverty in 2004


District of Columbia 19.2%

Louisiana 13.3%

Mississippi 11.6%

Arkansas 10.5%

New Mexico 9.7%

North Carolina 9.7%

West Virginia 9.6%

New York 9.6%

Alabama 8.4%

Tennessee 8.4%

It is ironic that the area with the highest child poverty rate is the District of Columbia, our nation's capital. I was also surprised to see that New York state, my state, is number 8 in child poverty. In general the worst states are in the south.

Link: NCCP | Who are America's Poor Children?.

Intuitive Eating: the Anti-dieting Diet

Reuters reported on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 on a study published in the November, 2005 issue of the American Journal of Health Education which showed that there are benefits to "intuitive eating".

"To become an intuitive eater, a person also needs to adopt two key behaviors. They must learn how not to eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons and they must listen to their body and eat only when hungry and stop when full. They must also learn how to interpret body signals, cravings, and hunger and respond in a healthy way."

Link: MedlinePlus: Intuitive Eating: the Anti-dieting Diet.

Quote of the day

"The hero, the saint, is often the one rejected. Look at Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Gandhi, and any number of good people divorced by a spouse who said "I don't love you any more."

Harry Holleywood

Improving the lives of people with Alzheimer's

On the Commonwealth Fund web site there is an interesting article about an activity which can be used in group settings with patients with Alzheimers involving a story telling activity.

"TimeSlips is a simple and inexpensive group storytelling technique that allows nursing home residents with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia to express themselves without relying on failing memories and deteriorating language skills. It has been shown to successfully engage residents, improve their ability to communicate, and gives them an opportunity to have fun and laugh. The technique also appears to improve relationships between nursing home residents and their caregivers."

The benefits of such a program are described in the article:

"A study of the TimeSlips method applied in one nursing home found that, over a period of weeks, residents' verbal communication skills improved, their depression lessened, and caregiving staff gained a better understanding of ADRD residents."

For more information click on the link below.

Link: Fund Digest> November/December 2005> November 17, 2005.

The Challenge of Patching Together Child Care

Child_care What happens when the percentage of women, who historically have been the child raisers, enter the workforce in increasing numbers? Over the last 30 years the percentage of women who have entered the workforce with children under 18 has risen from 47% to 71%. Many of these women have low level jobs where the cost of child care takes a major portion of their salary, and only 10 - 15% of working mothers get child care subsidies.

MDRC has an interesting article on their web site about the issue of working mothers patching together child care.

"From 1975 to 2004, the labor force participation rate of mothers with children under age 18 rose from 47 to 71 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while the availability of child care subsidies has increased dramatically in recent years, the Urban Institute reports that nationally only between 10 percent and 15 percent of eligible children benefit from child care subsidies from the Child Care and Development Fund, the main source of federal funding for this help."

Link: MDRC - Fast Fact: The Challenge of Patching Together Child Care.

Which state has the highest percentage of unmarried couples living together?

The U.S. Census Bureau puts out some very interesting data from time to time. For example, which states do you think has the highest percentage of unmarried households? I'll bet you guessed California that hotbed of progressive, libertine, cultural dynamics. If you guessed California, it's the wrong answer. The highest percentage of unmarried couples, ladies and gentlemen, is in Maine followed by New Hampshire, and Vermont.

The lowest percentage of unmarried couples is in the bible belt in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi but those same states also have very high percentages of unwed mothers with infants who apparently don't have fathers of those infants living in the household.

"The analysis of family structure variables showed marked geographic patterns. States in the Northeast had some of the highest levels of unmarried-couple households, particularly Maine (7.3 percent of all households), New Hampshire (7.2 percent) and Vermont (7.1 percent). States in the South, including Alabama (3.0 percent), Arkansas (3.6 percent) and Mississippi (3.8 percent), were among those with the lowest percentages of unmarried-partner households. Southern states (and the District of Columbia) also tended to have a higher percentage of unwed mothers with infants compared with the national average. These included the District of Columbia (53.4 percent), Mississippi (45.7 percent) and Louisiana (40.2 percent of all mothers)."

Link: Indicators of Marriage and Fertility in the United States from the American Community Survey: 2000 to 2003.

Social Security provides the primary life insurance protection for most children

The Economic Policy Institute released a report on October 5, 2005 which included information that the Bush Administration didn't tell you when they were trying to make changes in Social Security, and that is that Social Security is the only source of life insurance for poor kids.

"Social Security provides the primary life insurance protection for most children
This year's debate over Social Security has focused primarily on retiree benefits and has largely neglected the survivors and disability portions of the program. The fact that two-thirds of retirees receive at least half of their income from Social Security has become well-known.1 Yet many people seem unaware that about one in six Social Security beneficiaries receive survivor benefits as the spouses and dependents of deceased workers and another sixth receive disability benefits.2 In 2003, some 1.9 million children received survivor benefits at an average of $603 per month, totaling $14 billion a year.3 For many families, Social Security provides the only form of life insurance for their children."

Link: Social Security provides the primary life insurance protection for most children.

Statutory Rape: Sex between Young Teens and Older Individuals

A little discussed but significant behavior in our society is statutory rape.

Statutory rape is defined a little different from state to state but the idea is that one of the partners is under the age of 16 and has sex, even consensual if that is truly possible, with someone 3 or more years older.

The Child Trends data bank has an interesting article on the issue.

"Among young people ages 15 to 24 in 2002, 13 percent of females and 5 percent of males reported that their first sexual experience occurred at age 15 or younger with an individual who was three or more years older ("statutory rape"). (See Figure 1)

Sexual relationships between young teens and older individuals are associated with risky sexual behaviors that could lead to unintended pregnancy and childbearing, as well as to sexually transmitted infections. Among sexually experienced teens, having sex with someone who is older has been associated with reduced and inconsistent use of contraception,1,2,3 including reduced use of condoms,4 and a greater risk of a teen pregnancy.5 In fact, more than one in four children born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 17 were fathered by someone five or more years older.6 Additionally, engaging in sexual intercourse at an early age is associated with a number of negative consequences, including having a greater number of sexual partners, reduced contraceptive use, and a greater likelihood of having a teenage birth.7"

I remember reading a study which reported that one predictor of initiation of sexual activity is whether the partner is sexually experienced. In other words, if a virgin is going out with a non-virgin, this increases the liklihood that the virgin will loose his/her viriginity. Parents and guardians need to provide appropriate supervision for their children by determining the sexual experience of the person their children are dating and spending time with.

Link: Child Trends DataBank - Statutory Rape: Sex between Young Teens and Older Individuals.