As much as Hoosiers profess to love their children, the new report on the Status of Girls in Indiana is sobering.
The report compares Hoosier girls ages 10 to 19 with their peers in other states on a wide range of factors including poverty, education, physical health, sexuality and drug use.
On the plus side, Hoosier girls watch less television and are more likely to graduate from high school than their peers in other states. They score better than Hoosier boys on standardized tests, too.
But Hoosier girls are also more overweight, more likely to get pregnant, more likely to have consumed alcohol in the past month and poorer compared to girls in other states.
According to the report compiled by St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame, 22 percent of Hoosier girls lived below the poverty line in 2011. Nearly half of Hispanic and black girls were in that category.
This report prompted a lot of head-shaking, but that must not be the extent of the response.
Indiana has a lot of work to do so Hoosier girls can enjoy a well-being at least as good as their counterparts in other states.
Hoosier girls are bright, as their test scores show, but they need help with their self-confidence, with their health and with their parents’ wealth.
That means not just public health efforts, but also a re-examination of ways to lift children out of poverty.
Generating additional well-paying jobs so their parents can afford good health care and more educational opportunities for their children — and discouraging risky behaviors — is one of the keys to solving this problem.
Indiana is trying a number of job creation efforts. We need those efforts to pay off so families can see an improved quality of life.
Higher wages mean better health.
And as this report shows, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
— The Times, Munster
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