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Childhood Ends Too Soon for Many NM Kids

One-in-three children is growing up poor in rural New Mexico communities, according to Save the Children. (wkkf.org)
One-in-three children is growing up poor in rural New Mexico communities, according to Save the Children. (wkkf.org)
May 31, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For many kids in New Mexico, childhood is ending too soon. According to a new report from the humanitarian group Save the Children, New Mexico ranks 47th out of 50 states in its annual End of Childhood report.

That means kids are experiencing a lot of life-changing events that signal the disruption of normal childhood. Save the Children senior director Shane Garver said the index shows the state climbed only one spot from last year, primarily because it's at or near the bottom for states with food insecurity, excessive high school dropout rates and high rates of teen pregnancy.

"We know at Save the Children that 1.2 billion children are at risk for an early end to their childhood because of things like poverty, conflict, discrimination against girls, etc.,” Garver said.

Save the Children said no country is on track to meet the "17 Sustainable Development Goals" focused on ending poverty by 2030. The U.S. didn't rank in the top 10 or top 25, but rather placed 36th - between Belarus and Russia.

States doing even worse than New Mexico in the End of Childhood report include Arizona, South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Garver said the urban child poverty rate is about 28 percent, with the report showing many more children growing up impoverished in rural areas.

"We found that New Mexico rural children have the fifth-highest rate of childhood poverty in the nation, at 34 percent,” Garver said; “or one-in-three children growing up poor in rural New Mexican communities."

Garver said New Mexico's worst performing indicator is education, because 29 percent of children fail to graduate from high school on time. He added that only one-in-three - or 29 percent of the state's kids - push themselves past 12th grade.

"And this is particularly troubling because we know that kids in rural America are less likely, even if they do graduate high school, to go on to college," he said.

Child hunger also is a major problem in New Mexico, where nearly 125,000 children grew up hungry in food insecure households in 2015 - an overall rate of 25 percent.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM