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Teen pregnancies and the number of kids victimized by violent crime have fallen noticeably, but nearly a quarter of U.S. children are living in poverty and more, not fewer, are being exposed to damaging air pollution, according to a newly released federal report.

America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being,” is an annual report compiling a variety of statistics and yearly measurements. The data comes from 22 federal agencies and private research partners. The report is issued by the collaborative Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

Some good news — which could inform debate on crime policies — is that fewer 12-to-17-year-olds were victims of violent crime in 2010 than in 2009. The proportion dropped from 11 out of 1,000 kids in 2009 to seven out of 1,000 in 2010. Rates, in fact, have been continuing to slide since 1990, when 40 out of 1,000 kids in this age group were victims of a violent crime.

Preliminary data showed a drop in teen pregnancies from 20 per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 in 2009 to 17 per 1,000 in 2010. A decline was registered for all ethnic groups.

But the percent of American kids living in poverty was calculated at 22 percent in 2010, up one point in a year and six percentage points higher than the historic low of 16 percent in 2001. The effects of the recession continue.

In a section on physical environment and safety, an alarming statistic suggests a reversal in progress toward ensuring environmental protections safeguarding children.

“In 2010,” according to the report, “67 percent of children ages 0–17 lived in counties with pollutant concentrations above the levels of one or more current air quality standards, up from 59 percent in 2009, but down from 77 percent in 2003.”

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Susan Ferriss joined CPI in 2011 and directs its immigration project. As a Cox Newspapers Latin America...