WEB - EDITIROAL - Children's study
The recent Child First for Oregon Health and Safety report presents good and not so good news for Crook County residents and organizations. In essence, what is gleaned from the report is that much work remains to be done for children.
   "We continue to be a little higher than the state average on abuse and neglect statistics," said Brenda Comini, director of the Crook County Commission on Children and Families. "We are working with several different agencies to continually improve that."
   And some of the numbers are indeed troubling.
   For example, statistics indicate that 10.8 per 1,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect in Oregon. As for Crook County, 12.4 per 1,000 children are victims. And of those, approximately 38 percent are under the age of 6.
   Additionally, about 15 percent of children in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties do not have health insurance.
   "I believe that some of the statistics about children not having health insurance is impacted by the unemployment rates," she added. During November 2004, Crook County's unemployment rate was 8.7 percent.
   Organization representatives need to examine such causes as unemployment and determine what more can be done to help Crook County's children. After all, they are all of our children.
   Crook County statistics also show a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunches, compared to the state average. About 47 percent of Crook County School District students are eligible to receive a free or reduced lunch. On a statewide level, 41 percent of public school children are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
   However, there is some good news in the report which organizations such as Comini's should be proud of. For example, teen pregnancies between the ages of 15 and 17 declined from an average rate of 24.8 per 1,000 from the previous five years to a current rate of 19.6 per 1,000.
   The number of juvenile arrests in Crook County also declined from an average rate of 21.0 per 1,000 during the last five years to 19.6 per 1,000 in 2004.
   So while progress has been made in some areas for children, much still remains to be done. With residents and community organizations working together, the future for our children can be brighter.
   Shelby Case
   for the editorial board