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Special to the News
Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Unfortunately, 12.6% of individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.
Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, at least 70% of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications.
In addition, research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.
The environment is even more difficult for these young Americans in 2022, with soaring inflation and other economic difficulties, in addition to the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this in mind and 12.6% of young Americans neither working nor in school, exposing them to greater risk of poverty and violence, on Tuesday the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on “2022’s States with the Most At-Risk Youth.”
To determine where young Americans are not faring as well as others in their age group, especially in a year made extremely stressful by inflation and the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key indicators of youth risk. The data set ranges from the share of disconnected youth to the labor force participation rate among youth to the youth poverty rate.
The report has Alabama ranked third in 2022 for the most at-risk youth, only coming in behind Louisiana and Mississippi.
The report further showed Alabama’s rank in certain indicators concerning at-risk youth, where 1 or first is most at risk and 25 equals average. Those include the following:
- Twelfth in percentage of disconnected youth
- Twenty-fourth in percentage of youth without a high school diploma
- First in percentage of overweight and obese youth
- Second in youth labor force participation rate
- Thirteenth in youth poverty rate
- Second in share of population aged 12 and older that is fully vaccinated
When asked what can state and local policymakers do to reduce the number of rural youths who are disconnected from school and work; Johanna Slivinske, MSW, LISW-S clinical social worker, Mental Health and Counseling Services; part-time faculty of social work, Kent State University; responded, “State and local policymakers need to provide ample opportunities for recreation and healthy outlets for youth in rural areas. This can help youth to remain engaged in positive activities that promote wellness.”
For the full report, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-most-at-risk-youth/37280.