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Poll: Recession Affecting Children's Lives

It's not only adults who have felt the pain of the current recession: Nearly four in ten parents say the recession is affecting the lives of their children, a new CBS News poll finds.

Three in four parents see the recession's impact on others in their communities. And two in three are very concerned that many American children do not have health care.

A total of 38 percent of parents say their children's lives have been affected by the recession in some way, including 12 percent who say their children have been impacted a lot.

When asked whether the recession has affected their families overall - and not just their children - four in five parents say they and their families have been impacted. Nearly a third say the recession has had a lot of impact.

As parents have cut back on spending, many have had to acknowledge their families' financial constraints to their children. At some point over the past six months, 60 percent of parents say they have had to tell their children that they may not have the money available for some of the things they used to.

Just over half of those parents say their children were upset when they were told, including one in five who say their children were "very upset."

Parents with incomes under $50,000 report feeling more of an impact and are finding it harder to buy essentials.

Some parents have had to sacrifice paying for their children's health care. About one in 10 parents say over the past six months they have delayed taking their children to the dentist, delayed a routine medical check-up, or delayed taking a child to a medical specialist for a specific treatment because of the recession.

Lower-income families, unsurprisingly, have been more likely to cut corners on medical care because of the recession; about one in five families making less than $30,000 a year have delayed one or more of these treatments.

Health care has been near the top of the list of Americans' concerns, and 67 percent think the fact that many American children do not have health insurance is a very serious problem for the country. Another 23 percent think it is at least somewhat serious.

Read The Complete Poll (PDF)

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,874 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone May 6-12, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus two percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

An oversample of parents or guardians of children under 18 living at home with them was interviewed, for a total of 972 interviews with these parents. The results were then weighted in proportion to the total composition of the adult population in the U.S. Census. The margin of error for the sample of parents is three points.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.