For children, a better beginning

The Washington Post reports that in a wide-ranging look at how children have fared in their first decade of life, a study to be released today offers a promising picture of American childhood: Sixth-graders feel safer at school. Reading and math scores are up for 9-year-olds. More preschoolers are vaccinated. Fewer are poisoned by lead. The analysis, which created a composite index of more than 25 key national indicators, reports an almost 10 percent boost in children’s well-being from 1994 to 2006. This overall improvement comes in spite of two significant negative trends: increased rates of childhood obesity and low-birth-weight babies. "There are some really encouraging signs of progress," said Ruby Takanishi, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Child Development, which funded the research. "I think it’s important as a country…to see that there are things that parents can do, that government can do, that institutions can do, to make measurable differences for children."

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