Sunday, August 22, 2010

Men's Health magazine says Jacksonville's bad for kids

Jacksonville is in last place out of 100 in the September edition's list of America's "Safest Cities for Children."

The article's first paragraph even takes a shot at the city, saying, "Some places are just too dangerous for children: crocodile ponds, stores that sell barbed wire, Jacksonville."

Nancy Dreicer, state Department of Children and Families regional director, said the latest numbers for Jacksonville show it is one of the best in the state for lowest re-abuse of children. So the magazine's bottom-rung listing is "incorrect" and "absurd."

"It is probably old data, if it exists," Dreicer said. "We are below the state average in terms of average abuse. We are taking less kids into foster care in Jacksonville than just about any place in the nation, and we are proud of that."

Jacksonville City Council President Jack Webb, father of three, said readers shouldn't "believe everything you read."

"We can always do better. But are kids safe? I have lived here for 15 years, and are my kids safe? Yes," Webb said. "They [the magazine writers] don't get around much, do they? Apparently they didn't check out the Bronx."

The survey lists Madison, Wis., as America's "Safest City for Children," 20th best in accidental deaths, second best in car-seat inspection locations and sex offender listings, and 46th in abused children protection. Jacksonville listed under 99th place New Orleans, 100th in car-seat inspection locations, 86th in accidental deaths, 53rd in sex offenders and 68th in abused children protection.

The magazine used public databases to tally various perils posed to children. It included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for accidental death rates for children 5 to 14 and 2008 percentages of abused children protected from further abuse gathered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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