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County ranks near bottom for well-being of children

Warren County ranks 73rd in the state when it comes to the overall well-being of our children.
That’s according to a Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
In compiling its results, the commission evaluated children in a broad range of categories. This includes birth weight, child poverty, teen pregnancy, and graduation rate, among more than 30 categories.
Warren County finished 73rd out of Tennessee’s 95 counties. In comparison, Rutherford County was ranked No. 4, Coffee County was No. 51, Cannon County was No. 53, and DeKalb County was No. 76.
Williamson County was ranked No. 1 in the state, finishing first in 15 categories.
Of all the categories, Warren County fared best in number of neonatal deaths and number of teen violent deaths recorded in 2016. Warren County had zero in both categories, ranking No. 1.
Warren County lagged behind in other areas. Our 91.1 percent high school graduation rate was ranked 50th. Our births to unmarried mothers was 45.8 percent, which ranks 71st.
Warren County's teen pregnancy rate of 20.8 per 1,000 was ranked 81st. And our number of children without health insurance, 5.7 percent, ranks 89th.
“Research demonstrates adverse childhood experiences can disrupt brain development, especially in young children and present lifelong challenges for success in school, relationships, employment, and health across the lifespan,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.
The report determined children face the most obstacles in Shelby County, which includes Memphis.
Child poverty, one of the measuring sticks, varies greatly depending on county, the study found. There are 1-in-20 children in Williamson County living in poverty, while nearly 50 percent of children in Lake County do. The child poverty rate in Warren County is 30.1 percent, ranked No. 64.
Only a little more than 75 percent of students in Sequatchie and Shelby counties graduate from high school on time, compared to Lauderdale County, which had nearly every student graduate, 99.1 percent.
“Where children live can have a substantial impact on the trajectory of their lives,” said O’Neal.
As for demographic information, the study determined Warren County has a population of 40,444. Of that, 9,491 residents are under 18, or 23.5 percent.