Jul 29, 2014
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Study: More County 7th Graders Are Smoking Pot

The county's "Report Card on Children and Families" was presented to the Board of Supervisors this week.

Study: More County 7th Graders Are Smoking Pot

Teen pregnancy, child abuse and arrests among San Diego's youth declined over the past few years, but alcohol and tobacco use remained prevalent and marijuana use increased among seventh-graders, according to a report presented to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Between 2011 and 2013, researchers compiling the biennial "Report Card on Children and Families" measured progress in 25 areas that indicate health and well-being, including prenatal care, immunization, academic achievement and attendance.

The study is designed to provide elected officials, other policymakers and the public with a comprehensive look at trends related to the health and well-being of the county's children, teens and families.

"The San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families is more than a collection of charts and numbers," board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said. "It helps us step back and take a measure of our most important treasure, which is our children."

The detailed report by the nonprofit Children's Initiative showed improvements in 13 areas and little or no change in 10 others, Children's Initiative CEO Sandra McBrayer said.

More low-income families were accessing nutritional assistance and the number of residents with health coverage held steady. However, poverty in San Diego County also increased, which left more than 142,000 kids living below the local poverty level last year.

This year's report also included, for the first time, five indicators in adults that affected health from childhood -- oral health, obesity, substance abuse, poverty and health coverage. Obesity and oral health figures held steady but were not improving, and poverty and health coverage among adults were moving in the wrong direction. The percentage of adult smokers dropped.

"We're trying to demonstrate in this report card that childhood behaviors last a lifetime," McBrayer said.

The report also called attention to several areas with little available data, including human trafficking, untreated mental health needs and issues facing refugee children. It includes recommendations for improvement in San Diego County and outlines national best practices to make improvements, McBrayer said.

"Communities and heath departments don't have to think up what to do. We actually show them what's proven to be done to improve the indicator," McBrayer said.

—City News Service

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