JACKSON, Miss. – A healthy adulthood starts in childhood. But Mississippi’s children face an array of challenges that affect their health, well-being and their chances of becoming a healthy adult.
Mississippi ranks last in the U.S. in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center.
“(Health is) not merely the absence of disease,” said Bettina Beech, Associate Vice Chancellor for Population Health, University of Mississippi Medical Center. “It’s social, physical, spiritual, emotional well-being.”
The Southern Remedy television special “Growing Up Well” (Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m on MPB Television) examines the social determinants of health that play a pivotal role in the quality of a child’s upbringing. Among these factors, experts say poverty and lack of income have an especially direct effect on children’s well-being.
Poverty’s influence is exacerbated in homes headed by a single parent, especially a woman.
The child poverty rate in Mississippi is 34 percent, and, according to the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, single mothers head 64 percent of the Mississippi families in poverty.
Furthermore, the Economic Policy Institute says that families in rural Mississippi with one adult and two children need an income of $51,180 a year to meet basic needs, but the median annual income for a woman in Mississippi is $31,465.
“Mississippi's poverty rate is higher than most of the states in the country,” said Oleta Fitzgerald, Southern Regional Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. “You can't have a conversation in terms of the connection between poverty and children's health without talking about the social determinants of health.”
For more in-depth analysis of Mississippi children’s well-being, watch Growing Up Well on Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m. on MPB Television.
Mississippi Public Broadcasting provides educational and public affairs programming to Mississippians through its statewide television and radio network. MPB enhances the work of educators, students, parents and learners of all ages by providing informative programming and educational resources. MPB’s locally-produced programming focuses on the people, resources and attractions that reflect Mississippi’s unique culture and diverse heritage. Children’s television programs constitute a major portion of the daytime and weekend morning schedules. MPB provides a valuable resource to Mississippians in disseminating information as part of the state’s emergency preparedness and response system. Since 1970, MPB has won over 400 national, regional and statewide awards, including Emmy®, Edward R. Murrow and Parents’ Choice® Awards. For more information on MPB, its programs, mission or educational resources, please visit www.mpbonline.org.