Data Show Children of Color Are Systematically Denied Equitable Opportunities to Thrive

Number of California Students per 1,000 Suspended From School, by Race/Ethnicity,

Bar chart displays the number of California students per 1,000 suspended from school, by race and ethnicity, for the schools years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Note: Data are for the school years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

For many decades, state and national data have shown that communities of color—particularly African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and families—generally experience disproportionately poor outcomes across multiple domains of well-being. These domains include family economics, safety, school outcomes and experiences, mental and physical health, access to services, and more. KidsData now brings together data on these domains in a page dedicated to racial and ethnic equity to facilitate researchers, policymakers, and advocates’ easy access to the evidence.

Many leaders and organizations are working hard to improve outcomes for young people of color and some gaps have narrowed, but these inequities remain an urgent public health concern nationwide.

Why Do Racial/Ethnic Inequities Persist?

The social, economic, and environmental conditions that young people experience profoundly influence their health and well-being across the life course. Long-standing disparate outcomes for children and youth of color are a consequence of the poorer conditions they generally experience. Unequal conditions in turn reflect unequal distribution of power and resources among racial and ethnic groups, driven by structural racism and discriminatory practices embedded in our policies, institutions, and culture.

Data Drive Awareness and Action

Recognizing the importance of tracking disparities and supporting action to eliminate them, KidsData provides more than 150 measures broken down by race/ethnicity, along with explanatory context, evidence-based policy and program suggestions to help counteract disadvantage, and links to additional resources. We encourage you to put these data to work.

Spotlights From the Data:

  • African American/Black children are more likely than their white counterparts to have two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), according to a national survey from 2016 to 2020. In California, the share of African American/Black children with at least two ACEs is around double that of white children.
  • In California in 2018-2020, more than 1 in 5 African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino children lived on income below the Supplemental Poverty Measure threshold, compared with fewer than 1 in 12 of their white and multiracial peers.
  • Asian youth in California were more likely to have been bullied or harassed at school at least once in the previous year because of their race/ethnicity or national origin compared with students of other backgrounds, according to 2017-2019 data for grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional programs. Estimates of youth bullied often (four or more times) in the previous year due to race/ethnicity were highest for Asian and African American/Black students, at 9%.
  • Around 25% of Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native youth had high levels of developmental supports at school, compared with at least 30% for Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, African American/Black, and white students in grades 7, 9, and 11, and non-traditional programs in 2017-2019.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native youth were most likely to have been afraid of getting beaten up at school in the previous year, while African American/Black youth were most likely to feel unsafe or very unsafe at school, when compared with youth in other racial/ethnic groups in 2017-2019.
  • In 2021, rates of reading proficiency among California students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 were 60% or higher for Asian, Filipino, white, and multiracial students, and lower than 45% for African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groups.
  • In California’s high school graduating class of 2020, the percentages of African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students not completing high school (13% and 14%, respectively) were nearly double that for white students (7%) and more than three times that for Asian and Filipino students (4%).
  • In California, 8% of American Indian/Alaska Native children did not have health insurance coverage in 2018—more than twice the estimate for children in other racial/ethnic groups. The uninsured estimate for this population nationwide was even higher, at 13%.
  • California and U.S. infants born to African American/Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander mothers have the lowest rates of timely prenatal care. The greatest burden of adverse birth outcomes, such as low birthweight and infant mortality, typically is experienced by African American/Black families.
  • The juvenile felony arrest rate for African American/Black youth in California has dropped dramatically in recent decades; yet, as of 2020, it remains almost 5 times higher than the arrest rate for Hispanic/Latino youth, and nearly 10 times that for white youth.
  • In 2017-2019, around one in five American Indian/Alaska Native, multiracial, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth in California seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, a larger share than their grade 9, 11, and non-traditional peers in other racial/ethnic groups.
  • African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and young adults consistently have higher death rates than young people in other racial/ethnic groups, statewide and nationally. The rate of death due to firearms among California African American/Black youth in 2020 (25 per 100,000) was more than 4 times the rate for Hispanic/Latino youth, more than 7 times the rate for white youth, and over 16 times the rate for Asian youth.
How Can We Improve Outcomes for Young People of Color?

Policymakers and stakeholders in multiple sectors have a role in addressing disparities and ensuring that all children and families, regardless of race or ethnicity, have equitable opportunities to thrive. Eliminating these inequities will require increased investments in evidence-based policies and system-level changes. Examples include:

  • Ensure affordable, high-quality child care, health care, and health insurance are available to all families.
  • Increase access to affordable, culturally appropriate mental health care.
  • Provide safe, effective pre-K-12 schools with adequate support services in communities of color.
  • Continue to reform school disciplinary practices and the juvenile justice system to emphasize positive youth outcomes.

Promoting equity for children and families of color, including immigrant families, not only will improve children’s lives in the short-term but also can strengthen the next generation, creating significant, positive social and economic impacts for society. Use KidsData’s new racial and ethnic equity page to identify disparities and explore policy solutions.

Call for Input on Policies Contributing to Racial/Ethnic Health Inequities

A new National Academies committee is seeking input on federal policies that contribute to racial/ethnic health inequities and potential solutions, including lived experiences navigating federal programs and systems. Learn more and share your feedback.

KidsData in the News

Interact Clubs to Hold Mental Health Awareness Walk

A Tehachapi News story on youth mental health cited KidsData on youth suicide rates in Kern County.

Feeding America Riverside-San Bernardino Receives $60K Grant

A Patch article about a new grant to support nutrition programs cited KidsData on the share of students who participate in free and reduced-price school program meals.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about prenatal care. See links to the latest here.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2022 at 9:26 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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