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Tennessee State Child Well-Being Report Says Crime Among Minors In Decline

Image Credit: tn.gov

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

Tennessee’s State of the Child 2023 report finds crime among minors within the state is in decline, but especially in Shelby and Davidson counties. 

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) releases a report every year that assesses the well-being of the state’s children in several different categories: crime, poverty, mental health, safety, education, and youth justice.

An independent and nonpartisan agency, the TCCY was created to track the effectiveness of state policies and programs on the health, well-being and development of Tennessee’s children, youth and families.

The Tennessee General Assembly established the TCCY as a permanent commission, reporting to the governor, the state assembly, and to the state’s depository libraries, making it a central resource for information for the state and an advocacy agency to assist in the making of policy and coordinating resources.

According to the report, Shelby, Davidson and Hamilton counties all saw crime rates for those under the age of 18 declining between 2012 and 2022 with Shelby and Davidson having the largest decrease in crime, from 24.7 per 1,000 in 2012 to 20.1 per 1,000 a decade later.

While the weekly wage for households with children has increased by 27% – about $268 a week – since 2019, the report states that 40% of Tennessean families are finding it hard to pay for typical household expenses. Families report being behind on rent – 1 in 6 households – and being unable to pay energy bills – 1 in 3. The poverty rate for children under 5 has increased to 1 in 5 since 2021 to 2022 with 17.6% of children in the state living below the federal poverty line last year.

Food insecurity varies greatly depending on the county. In 2021, Williamson County had a 0.0% rate while Haywood County saw greater than a quarter of the county’s children facing not having enough to eat.

The report states that on the whole, children in Tennessee are in good or excellent health, including 81% who live below the poverty line. More than half of children in the state are currently insured by TennCare. Just 5.3% of all children were found to be uninsured, and of those two-thirds were eligible for Tenncare or CoverKids.

News on the mental health front continues to be worrisome. During the last year, more than half (53%) of high schools girl and nearly a third (30%) of high school boys said they felt sad or hopeless on a daily basis for 2 weeks or more. This is up 63% since 2011. And it gets worse.

More than 1 in 5 of these students said they had thought about committing suicide in 2021 and more than 1 in 6 had made a plan to take action to that end. The stats for those actually following through was 1 in 7. Tennessee sadly ranked in the top 20 states for suicides among those aged 9 to 17 in 2021.

There is some good news in that alcohol use among high schoolers is down from 33% in 2011 to 22% in 2021.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. 

You can reach Paula at paula@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

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