Newark Kids Count 2019: Special Focus on the City's Young Men of Color Newark's young men lag behind in indicators of well-being, but remain optimistic in the future of their city
Newark's young men of color fall disproportionately behind in education, access to health insurance and exposure to violence and the juvenile justice system, when compared to their female peers and among young men in the same age group across the state, according to the 2019 Newark Kids Count report, released today. Despite these challenges, they remain optimistic in the future of their city, as well as their own aspirations.
One of the most alarming data in the report was the high percentage of young men falling victim to violence. From 2012 to 2016, homicide was the leading cause of injury-related deaths among Newark males between the ages of 15 and 24, with a total of 122 fatalities, accounting for 75 percent of injury-related fatalities to young men. In contrast, for young men in the same age group across the state, that figure was 27 percent.
Newark Kids Count, produced by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), provides a comprehensive snapshot of key trends in child health and well-being of New Jersey's largest city. This year's report features a special section on the city's young men of color, in partnership with My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Newark. ACNJ and MBK Newark held listening sessions with young men of color, asking them to reflect on their experience growing up in the city and to share ways to improve outcomes for young men.
"Although many describe life in Newark to be 'unpredictable,' the stories the youth shared were also full of hope and aspirations. They spoke about wanting meaningful careers and making an impact - goals no different than their peers across the state," said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of ACNJ. "Yet far too many boys and young men of color face roadblocks impeding their potential to succeed, making the path that much harder."
"Violence can leave lasting wounds on the individual and families, and the communities in which they live. We applaud Mayor Baraka's efforts on making Newark a trauma-informed city, providing youth with the supports and tools necessary to help mitigate and overcome the effects of trauma," Zalkind added.
"From these conversations, we know that the experiences of young men in Newark are diverse and complex. There are no easy solutions, but it is clear that we are listening and engagement is key. We must provide opportunities where we see young men of color as a part of the solution, filled with untapped potential,"said Khaatim Sherrer El, managing director for My Brother's Keeper Newark. "My Brother's Keeper looks to join forces with those on the ground to move the needle for young men in Newark in education, financial upward mobility, violence reduction, and health."
With more than 21,000 young men ages 15 to 24 living in Newark and only 12 percent identifying as white, non-Hispanic, the majority of male youth living in the city are people of color. Roughly 32 percent of black and Hispanic youth live below poverty, equaling $24,858 for a family of four.
"For me, this is personal. Growing up in Newark, I was fortunate to have a support system that helped me succeed - family, friends and mentors that saw my potential and kept me motivated. But I know not everyone has that strong support system," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.
"What we see in the latest report is both troubling and helpful. It is troubling in that it tells us that far too many young Newarkers live in poverty and become victims of violence. The report, however, provides us with hope and strength in recognizing the value of My Brother's Keeper, Community Street Teams, Men's Meetings and other initiatives to empower our youth with the tools they need to succeed in life."
The City of Newark has embarked on several key initiatives:
Community Street Teams. They help resolve conflicts in high crime areas; redirect many to education, life skills, and employment; and make sure children get to and from school safely.
My Newark Brothers Keeper. Becoming one of the first cities to create a local initiative, it is centered around leadership, education, violence prevention and more.
Citywide men's meetings. Reaching out to hundreds of attendees to encourage entrepreneurship, networking and employment opportunities.
Despite a substantial decline in juvenile arrests and admissions to county detention facilities over the years, Newark's male youth of color continue to be over-represented in the juvenile justice system. Roughly 82 percent of Newark arrests of youth ages 18 to 24 were to young men in 2017, compared to 18 percent of arrests of young women in that same age group. Similar disparities exist for Newark youth admitted to Essex County detention. In 2017, 54 percent of youth admissions to Essex County Detention were to young men from Newark, compared to 7 percent for Newark females. Newark males ages 15-24 comprise roughly 40 percent of Essex County's total 15- to 24-year-old male population.
In the area of health, although uninsured rates have decreased statewide, approximately 35 percent of Newark males ages 19-25 are without insurance. This compares to 25 percent of young women within the city.
And while Newark's graduation rate has steadily climbed, the city's graduation rate among male high schoolers still fall below their female peers, at 74 percent and 83 percent, respectively.
Other Newark child trends.
Economic Health. Despite progress in Newark's rate of child poverty, unemployment and median family income, 65 percent of the city's children live in in low-income households, defined as earning nearly $50,000 for a family of four. Roughly 36 percent live in poverty, equaling $24,858 for a family of four.
Demographics. Between 2013 and 2017, the city saw a 10 percent decrease in the number of children identified as black or African American, dropping from more than 36,000 to roughly 33,000. During that same time, the number of children in the "other" category grew 9 percent.
Prenatal/Maternal Health. Newark saw an increase in expectant mothers receiving late or no prenatal care from 37 percent in 2013, to 41 percent in 2017. Although New Jersey and Essex County also experienced upticks in this health indicator, their numbers were still far below Newark, at 32 and 23 percent respectively.
Newark's infant mortality rate rose to a rate of 8.2 in 2016, up from 7.5 the previous year and double the statewide rate of 4.1.
The number of families participating in state-funded home visitation programs held steady from the previous year with 344 families in 2018. These regular visits from a nurse or other health professional help nurture positive parent-child relationships as well as resources and support.
Early care. In 2018, roughly 30 fewer licensed child care centers operated within the city of Newark than in 2014, dropping from 173 centers to 143. The number of registered family child care providers - individuals who care for children in their own homes - fell significantly from 138 providers to 83.
Education. During the 2017-18 school year, one out of every three Newark students were enrolled in a charter school, compared to 25 percent during the 2013-14 school year. In addition, the percentage of Newark high schoolers graduating grew from 68 to 78 percent between the 2012-13 and 2016-17 school year. The rate still fell below the statewide average of 91 percent.
Chronic Absenteeism. For the 2017-18 school year, the city saw higher rates of chronic absenteeism for preschool and high school students, with 48 percent of preschoolers, 44 percent of ninth graders and 62 percent of seniors chronically absent in Newark's district schools.
Child Protection. Consistent with state and Essex County trends, the number of children with a substantiated or established finding of abuse or neglect declined by 35 percent since 2013. In 2017, 9.8 percent of reported children had a substantiated or established finding—compared to 15.6 in 2013. Out-of-home placements are also down, decreasing slightly by 3 percent.
About Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide child research and action organization. ACNJ works with local, state and federal leaders to identify and implement changes that will benefit New Jersey's children.
About Kids Count KIDS COUNT is a national and state‐by‐state statistical effort to track the state of children in the United States, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
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