A majority of Puerto Rican children are in poverty and face dwindling prospects for the future according to a report by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).
The NCLR study found that 56% of children on the island live below the poverty line, triple the figure or the U.S. as a whole. The “2010 KIDS COUNT - Puerto Rico Data Book” also noted that the commonwealth has one of the highest teen birth rates in the U.S. and leads all U.S. states and territories in the proportion of youth who neither work or go to school (14.6%).
What factors contribute to this problematic data on Puerto Rico’s youth? According to the report’s main author, Nayde Rivera-Hernández, one of the main factors is the prevalence of single-parent households. (Children live in 49% of them said Rivera-Hernández). In a press conference yesterday she detailed that the average household income in Puerto Rico in 2006-2008 was $20,795, over $1000 less than the poverty level for a family of four ($21,834).
While protests continue against government plans to impose a university fee, Rivera-Hernández called for officials to do more in order to combat “low educational levels” hurting the island’s youth.
Earlier today a White House task force on Puerto Rico advocated that a two-stage plebiscite take place to help determine the island’s political status. Gov. Luis Fortuño, a Republican who has called for Puerto Rican statehood, praised the White House report as one that “breaks the myths” of backing commonwealth status. Yet the NCLR could provide ammunition to anti-statehood activists who claim that Puerto Rico is too poor to become the 51st state.
Image- Prensa Latina
Online Sources- Terra.com, primerahora.com, The Latin Americanist, FOX News Latino, America Quarterly Blog, MSNBC, Huffington Post, National Council of La Raza