This inaugural publication of the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma provides a brief assessment of the status of Oklahoma's children using five different indicators representing serious challenges to their well-being: child safety, child poverty, educational success, teen births, and youth substance abuse. Findings indicate: there were over 11,000 cases of child abuse and neglect confirmed in 2013 in Oklahoma; 1 in 4 Oklahoma children lived in poverty in 2011; Oklahoma's high school graduation rate is been 72-78%; Oklahoma ranks 2nd for teen births in the United States at 47.3%; and Oklahoma teens are involved with substance abuse at about the same prevalence as their peer nationwide. The report concludes the children are not doing well and warrant the attention of faith, community, and policy leaders to strengthen Oklahoma's families and put children on a path that gives them the optimal opportunity to be safe, stable, and to succeed. It calls on the Oklahoma Legislature to consider policies that slow down the fast-pace of unilateral divorce, encourage more premarital education, financially encourage long-term marriage, and increase the opportunity for reconciliation. In addition, it urges faith and community leaders to consider how best to expand efforts to inform young people on the benefits of marriage, to take advantage of opportunities to participate in premarital assessments and training, to not rush to the altar before being ready, and to keep their marriage vows for the long run. 32 references.
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Why Strong Families Still Matter.