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Report: Progress of black youth mixed

Updated: January 7, 2013 7:13AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Black youth in Indiana have made strides over the past few years in education, crime and other areas, but their problems persist when compared with the population as a whole, according to a new report.

The report by Indiana Black Expo found black third-graders made gains on state standardized tests, but still lag behind their white peers. Juvenile delinquency has declined, but black youths are still more than twice as likely to end up in court than others facing the same offense. Teenage births have declined overall, but more children are being born to unmarried parents and raised by single mothers.

Indiana Black Expo released the report, which was prepared by researchers at Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis and local consulting firm Engaging Solutions, on Tuesday. It’s the organization’s third such report in seven years. The report measures several social, economic and health-related factors by comparing statistics over several years, generally from 2000 to 2010.

“Overall, there is some progress that has been made since the previous report,” Tammy Butler Robinson of Engaging Solutions said. “But I definitely agree that work is needed to be done.”

Most trends noted by the report outpace national figures. The largest difference is the percentage of black children who are victims of abuse or neglect. In Indiana, that’s 45 percent higher than the national rate.

On the home front, black children face a challenging environment. Black household incomes have increased 3.5 percent since 2000, but that’s not nearly enough to keep up with inflation. And while black median household incomes have increased slightly, the levels of unemployment and black children in poverty have increased nearly 10 times as much or more, according to the report. Single mothers head more than half of the black households in Indiana, more than double that of white families.

Hardly any of the good news is completely good. Premature births among black females decreased, but low-weight births rose and infant mortality grew by 12 percent, one-third higher than the national average for children of all races.

And an 18 percent increase in the number of black graduates earning a Core 40 diploma was offset by the fact that nearly one in four failed to pass state-mandated graduation exams but still get diplomas because their schools waive the requirement under a rule intended for cases of test anxiety.

Indiana Black Expo CEO Tanya Bell said the data is intended to serve as a “game plan” to give communities guidance on where to target programs. The report also includes data for 16 Indiana cities.

Thomas Griffin III, president of Indiana Black Expo’s Indianapolis chapter, said the report should motivate people to try to solve the problems it found.

“There are situations in our community that should and/or could be addressed. Maybe we can’t fix them all. But if we continue to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist, then we go with this mind-set that everything is great and everything is wonderful,” Griffin said.



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