Challenges afoot for families

Several trends underway in American society, including technological advance and rising joblessness among single mothers, pose threats to the well-being of the nation’s children and families, a new report says.

“Scanning the Horizons 2006-2007,” published by the Alliance for Children and Families, is the latest annual assessment of societal trends aimed at helping human-services organizations improve their planning and programs.

While advances in technology have helped people connect electronically, the report says, people in general have fewer friends or family members they can rely on for support.

Compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. has the highest infant-mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy among those over age 60, the report says.

The number of Americans without health insurance has hit a new high, and more than one in four soldiers returning from the war in Iraq is plagued by medical or mental health problems.

Among youth ages 10 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, the study says, and youth who drop out of high school cost the U.S. more than $260 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes.

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