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Just the Stats: A Day in the Life of a Child in the United States

Minorities represent one-third of children in classes for the gifted, but parents stop enforcing TV restrictions and spend less time bonding with their children over dinner as their children grow up, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data in “A Child’s Day” examines the daily activities and well-being of children and is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2003 Survey of Income and Program Participation.  Key findings:

·         Minorities represented one-third of gifted children. Between the ages of 12 and 17, roughly 25 percent of all children were in gifted or advanced classes. However, minorities are not well represented in these classes. Specifically, Blacks make up only 15.9 percent of children in gifted classes, while Hispanics represent 16.5 percent. Whites, meanwhile, represented 78.7 percent of the total gifted class.

·         Almost one-third (29 percent) of all Asians between the ages of 12 and 17 repeated a grade in 2003, while 17.3 of Hispanic children, 19.7 percent of Blacks and 24.2 percent of Whites did.

·         Roughly 38 percent of all children under the age of 12 are cared for regularly in a non-relative childcare arrangement. On average, Hispanics are the least likely to use such a system, while Blacks are the most likely.

Reading to Children

Hispanic parents are the most likely not to read to their children, with 22.1 percent not reading to their 1- and 2-year-olds, and 14.8 percent not reading to their 3- to 5-year-olds. Whites are the most likely to read to their children, with 91.4 percent reading to their 1- and 2-year-olds, and 93.6 percent to their 3- to 5-year olds. Only 38.2 percent of Blacks will read to their 1- to 5-year-old children 7 or more times per week, compared to 35.8 percent of Hispanics, 51.3 percent of Asians, and 53.3 percent of Whites. 

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Parental Control Over TV

Since 1994, parents say they have greatly reduced a popular pastime — watching television. In 1994, only 54 percent of parents of children between ages 3 to 5 enforced all three of the following television rules: which programs to watch, how early/late to watch and how many hours a child can watch television. Now the number has risen to 67 percent of parents enforcing all three rules. Interestingly, minority parents say they impose more television rules than the average household. Nearly 74 percent of Blacks with children ages 6 to 11 impose all three rules compared to Hispanics at 67.3 percent and Whites at 67.5 percent. This trend does not follow with 12- to 17-year-olds. Within that age group, just 49.1 percent of Hispanic parents impose the rules, followed by Blacks at 46.5 percent and Whites at 43.4 percent.


Family Bonding During Meal Time

Black parents were less likely to eat breakfast or dinner with their children, across the board. Roughly 46.4 percent of the time, a Black parent will eat breakfast with a child 6 years old or younger, compared to 60 percent of the time for White parents and 58 percent of the time for Hispanics. Across all races/ethnicities, the older the child gets, the less parents break bread with them.

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Minorities are Less Likely to Praise Their Child

Roughly 72 percent of all parents praise their under-6-year-old children, compared to 63.1 percent of Blacks, 65.8 percent of Hispanics and 74.2 percent of Whites. Unfortunately, these numbers decrease across the board as the child grows up.

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Blacks Report Unsafe Neighborhood Conditions

Lastly, when parents were surveyed about their neighborhood conditions, Blacks were more likely to report unsafe and dangerous environments than any other race. Roughly 55.3 percent of Blacks reported that there were people in the neighborhood who might be a bad influence. Only 44.4 percent of White parents and 44.1 percent of Hispanic parents reported the same thing. Blacks were almost twice as likely to report that they had to keep their child inside the house due to a dangerous neighborhood. Only 71 percent of Blacks reported having a safe place for children to play, compared to the average of 80.9 percent.

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