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Report Looks At Poverty & Health Of Dallas County Children

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - According to a new report, the number of Dallas County children living below the poverty line is enough to fill Cowboys Stadium – more than twice!

The Children's Medical Center annual study put the number of poor children and teens at 29.4-percent or more than 650,000.

Children's calls their Beyond ABC Report a "comprehensive review of the quality of life for area children".

In 2010 the number of Dallas children with no private or governmental health insurance fell to just under 18-percent, but was still more than twice the national average of 8-percent.

As a recommended solution the report suggests support for national healthcare reform that would guarantee medical coverage for children from birth to age 21.

"Many of us live in the neighborhoods that aren't as affected by poverty, and when we find out that there are neighborhoods where every child is born to a teenage mother, where every child is living in poverty, where many children are hungry," explained Timothy Bray, Ph.D., with the UTD Institute for Urban Policy Search. "Those are the neighborhoods that most need our help."

Researchers also found that 183,000 Dallas County children aren't getting enough food and what they do receive is of poor nutritional value. That equation has resulted in a significant number of children that are becoming more malnourished and overweight at the same time.

Leaders with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), North Texas Food Bank and the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas, were among those who participated in a Monday morning community symposium.

Perhaps the most disturbing static in the report involves the rise in child abuse. Since the year 2000 there has been a 39-percent increase in the number of cases of child abuse or neglect in Dallas County. In 2010, there were nearly 5,600 confirmed cases.

At Children's Medical Center, Dr. Matthew Cox works to detect medical evidence of child abuse. But, even he has a hard time figuring out why it happened.

"We have to talk around it a lot because we don't know. The ultimate question is 'why would anyone hurt a child?' And I can't answer that," said Dr. Cox. "I don't want to be able to answer that. I just want to solve the problem as a long-term goal."

Experts say more awareness will help and they encourage community or family members with suspicions of abuse to come forward, before the violence escalates.

Bray said people could easily have a positive impact on the world. "It doesn't take a major movement," he said matter-of-factly. "It simply takes every single individual committing themselves to changing the plight of our children."

Click here to read the entire Assessing Children's Health in Dallas County 2011 report.

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