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HomeNewsArchivesSURVEY PAINTS STARK PICTURE OF KIDS IN V.I.

SURVEY PAINTS STARK PICTURE OF KIDS IN V.I.

Almost half the children in the Virgin Islands live in poverty, more than one in five are high school dropouts, half live in single-parent households and nearly one-third do not live with either parent.
These are a few of the more dramatic statistics presented to a handful of government officials Monday, the findings of a survey, "Kids Count," published by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
While some of those officials balked at the numbers, CFVI Director Dee Baecher-Brown said the point of doing the benchmark survey was "not to have another report to sit on a shelf" but to mobilize the community.
Retired educator Ruth Thomas backed her up. "We must straighten this out," she said. Thomas challenged those in attendance to go out and explain the survey results one-on-one if necessary. She specifically referred to talk radio shows, saying callers could be "goat-ignorant when they want to be" and asking those who read and understand the report to respond to naysayers by asking, "How are you going to help?"
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's chief of staff, Juel Molloy, said the report was clear. "We have to accept the fact that our children are in trouble," she said. Molloy also echoed others, asking, "What do you do with it? Do we have the political will to turn it around?"
But Attorney General Iver Stridiron and Cisselon Nichols, director of the Division of Paternity and Child Support, took exception to the way the numbers were presented, saying some numbers were misleading and could put the Virgin Islands in a negative light, particularly compared to the U.S. as a whole.
Nichols said the timing was bad since her department was trying to convince Washington to stop comparing the Virgin Islands to the rest of the country. She said she was worried that some people might misuse or misinterpret the national comparison figures.
Nichols said she was working to have the Virgin Islands compared to the Native American population.
The Kids Count report, which was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and compiled by CFVI and the University of the Virgin Islands with input from V.I. government agencies, will be done every year, Brown said. UVI psychology professor Patricia Rhymer Todman collected the data, analyzed it and wrote the report. Todman said the findings in this report would provide a baseline from which to judge progress.
Though much of it uses multiplication to arrive at comparative statistical data, Todman noted the simple-to-read report provides specific numbers as well. And several people, including Frank Mills, manager of Census 2000, pointed out how small numbers can drastically change percentages in a mathematical survey.
Verna Christian-Garcia and Judith Richardson, who took the rough draft of the survey out to community groups to get feedback, both said that at first people balked at the statistics but ended up asking what could be done to change the problems they underscore.
Information for the survey came from the 1990 census, the 1995 USVI Population and Housing Survey, the 1997 Eastern Caribbean Center Consumer Expenditure Survey, Human Services Protective Services statistics and, in one instance, from teen deaths as recorded on death certificates from the Health Department.
Some of the other findings:
– 44 percent of families with children under 18 are headed by a single parent. The national average is 27 percent.
– 22 percent of V.I. teens aged 16-19 are high school dropouts. The national average is 10 percent.
– Deaths of V.I. children under 14 are almost twice the national average.
– Infant deaths on St. Croix are twice as high as the national average — 14 per 1,000 live births compared to seven nationally. The V.I. average is 11.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, call Dee Baecher-Brown at 340-774-6031 or e-mail dbrowncfvi@worldnet.att.net.

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Almost half the children in the Virgin Islands live in poverty, more than one in five are high school dropouts, half live in single-parent households and nearly one-third do not live with either parent.
These are a few of the more dramatic statistics presented to a handful of government officials Monday, the findings of a survey, "Kids Count," published by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
While some of those officials balked at the numbers, CFVI Director Dee Baecher-Brown said the point of doing the benchmark survey was "not to have another report to sit on a shelf" but to mobilize the community.
Retired educator Ruth Thomas backed her up. "We must straighten this out," she said. Thomas challenged those in attendance to go out and explain the survey results one-on-one if necessary. She specifically referred to talk radio shows, saying callers could be "goat-ignorant when they want to be" and asking those who read and understand the report to respond to naysayers by asking, "How are you going to help?"
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's chief of staff, Juel Molloy, said the report was clear. "We have to accept the fact that our children are in trouble," she said. Molloy also echoed others, asking, "What do you do with it? Do we have the political will to turn it around?"
But Attorney General Iver Stridiron and Cisselon Nichols, director of the Division of Paternity and Child Support, took exception to the way the numbers were presented, saying some numbers were misleading and could put the Virgin Islands in a negative light, particularly compared to the U.S. as a whole.
Nichols said the timing was bad since her department was trying to convince Washington to stop comparing the Virgin Islands to the rest of the country. She said she was worried that some people might misuse or misinterpret the national comparison figures.
Nichols said she was working to have the Virgin Islands compared to the Native American population.
The Kids Count report, which was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and compiled by CFVI and the University of the Virgin Islands with input from V.I. government agencies, will be done every year, Brown said. UVI psychology professor Patricia Rhymer Todman collected the data, analyzed it and wrote the report. Todman said the findings in this report would provide a baseline from which to judge progress.
Though much of it uses multiplication to arrive at comparative statistical data, Todman noted the simple-to-read report provides specific numbers as well. And several people, including Frank Mills, manager of Census 2000, pointed out how small numbers can drastically change percentages in a mathematical survey.
Verna Christian-Garcia and Judith Richardson, who took the rough draft of the survey out to community groups to get feedback, both said that at first people balked at the statistics but ended up asking what could be done to change the problems they underscore.
Information for the survey came from the 1990 census, the 1995 USVI Population and Housing Survey, the 1997 Eastern Caribbean Center Consumer Expenditure Survey, Human Services Protective Services statistics and, in one instance, from teen deaths as recorded on death certificates from the Health Department.
Some of the other findings:
- 44 percent of families with children under 18 are headed by a single parent. The national average is 27 percent.
- 22 percent of V.I. teens aged 16-19 are high school dropouts. The national average is 10 percent.
- Deaths of V.I. children under 14 are almost twice the national average.
- Infant deaths on St. Croix are twice as high as the national average -- 14 per 1,000 live births compared to seven nationally. The V.I. average is 11.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, call Dee Baecher-Brown at 340-774-6031 or e-mail dbrowncfvi@worldnet.att.net.