North America

The News, Mexico City
29 January 1997


NEW YORK -- An increasing number of New York City's children are poor, homeless, sick, doing badly in school and relying on welfare and mental health services, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study by the independent Citizens' Committee for Children of New York also said there were signs of improvements in the lives of the city's 1.9 million children, including a decrease in violent crime against young people, better parental care and lower infant mortality.

The rates of early death, however, were still higher than the state and national averages, according to the report entitled ''Keeping Track of New York City's Children.'' The report covered statistics for 1994.

New York has more children -- one in four of the city's 7.3 million people are under 18 years old -- than any other city in the United States, but in the last three years 2.5 billion dollars have been cut from programs serving children, the researchers said.

The group's executive director Gail Nayowith said city leaders had failed to give children's needs consistent priority as they had done with fighting New York's high rate of violent crime.

According to police statistics the city was safer in 1996 than it has been in a generation, and for the first time in almost 30 years there were fewer than 1,000 murders.

''The drop in crime shows that targeted, coordinated government interventions can produce change,'' Nayowith told reporters in a telephone news conference. ''Somebody at City Hall has to look at the big picture and commit to creating a better future for our children. We have to see an expansion of child care, but child care that is safe.''

The number of homeless children rose sharply to 9,940 from 6,450 between 1990 and 1994 and many children live in dilapidated or overcrowded housing, said the report, which is the third in a series that started in 1994.

Based on city and state agency statistics, the privately funded, nonprofit group found that 52 percent of the city's children were born into poverty, an increase of 18 percent since 1990.

The report said children of colour remained the most vulnerable, with three-quarters of Latino children born into poverty in 1994, compared to 62 percent of black children, 43 percent of Asian children and 24 percent of white children.

New York City children were much more likely to be admitted the hospital for preventable illnesses such as pneumonia, dehydration, lead poisoning or tuberculosis than children in other parts of New York state, the report said.

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