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Report: Good and Bad News about Indiana's Children

The latest report by the Indiana Youth Institute says kids are still smoking and drinking too much, but the teen birth rate continues to decline. (inatashko/morguefile)
The latest report by the Indiana Youth Institute says kids are still smoking and drinking too much, but the teen birth rate continues to decline. (inatashko/morguefile)
February 15, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - More children in Indiana live with adults who are struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues than their peers nationally.

That's one finding of the 2016 Kids Count report, compiled by the Indiana Youth Institute. It shows more than 13 percent of Indiana's children have lived with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem - a figure higher than the national rate.

Glenn Augustine, interim CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says it isn't only the adults who are using.

"The most common, of course, is alcohol," says Augustine. "But one thing that's sort of interesting in those numbers is that the second most-used drug among teenagers is now electronic vapors products, or e-cigarettes."

Augustine says the drug problem hurts Indiana's economy, too, as jobs go unfilled when applicants can't pass the drug screening.

He adds substance abuse and mental health go hand in hand. The report says one in 20 Indiana children has lived with someone who is mentally ill or suicidal. which also means a high percentage of kids suffer from serious behavioral problems.

There is also good news in the Kids Count report, says Augustine. It shows a continued decline in the teen birth rate.

"Now, we're seeing it at it's lowest rate ever recorded," he says. "About 14 in every 1,000 teen girls between the ages of 15 and 17 gave birth in Indiana."

More good news is education-related: Indiana in-state college tuition and fees rank seventh-lowest in the nation, according to the report, increasing only seven percent in the past five years.

And for the first time ever, more than half of fourth-graders who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress scored well in the math portion of the test.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN