SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — How are the kids doing in South Dakota?

A new report of at least 100 pages provides an inside look at the well-being of the state’s children and indicators of risk to their well-being.

The State of South Dakota’s Children’s Well Being 2023 Report is like a playbook that can be used to address well-being risks and applied to solutions to reduce and manage those risks.

“It’s meant to be a very comprehensive report,” said Darla Biel, the interim director of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota.

One of the goals of compiling the data and information into the report is to help state agencies, non-profits, communities and others determine a shared set of indicators to address the well-being of children. In 2021, the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment met with a focus group to discuss child well-being indicators. The group met again in 2022 to continue to work on identifying shared indicators for child well-being.

The center began compiling the information for reports in 2022 and 2023.

Data and information is from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control, the South Dakota Department of Education, the FBI, the 2018-2021 National Survey of Children’s
Health and others. In general, the report data covers 2017-2021.

Biel said comparing South Dakota data to national data when possible is important to provide more context for users.

In 2021, the state had 218,698 children which made up about 25% (24.8%) of the population.

In 2021, 62% of the state’s children aged 6-17 were flourishing compared to 59% nationally.

A combination of data and information contributes to that percentage.

Some of the data included in the report delves into the safety of children’s homes and neighborhoods.

While 97.4% of children in South Dakota said they live in a safe neighborhood, children under the age of 9 are still at greater risk of maltreatment than the national average, according to the report. Parents can be the source of the maltreatment.

South Dakota’s children were more likely to be mistreated by a parent 81.4% than the national average of 76.8%.

Unlike the national average, the risk for child maltreatment lessens with age in South Dakota.

For example, the risk rate for a child from infant to 2 years old in the state is 29% compared to 27.9% in the U.S. At 15-17 the risk rate drops to 7.9% in South Dakota compared to 10.3% in the U.S.

The pages of the well-being report reveal possible causes and consequences, or links, between what a child experiences, witnesses and some potential eventual behaviors as well as the relationship between experiences and other influences.

If a child experiences violence at home, is there a link to depression or other issues for that child? is one example, Biel said.

Biel also stresses that “just because a child experiences violence doesn’t mean they will commit violence.”

The connections to caring adults and relationships between child and parents are key pieces in a child’s well-being, according to the report.

South Dakota is doing better than national averages in some areas. The percentage of children 6 through 17 who said they have at least an adult outside of a parent they can turn to for advice or guidance was 93.8% compared to 89.6% nationally.

The percentage of children 6 through 17 who said they can share ideas or talk with parents or a parent very well or somewhat about things that really mattered was 96.4%, higher than the national average of 94.8%.

The state does have higher percentages of children who use alcohol, smoke cigarettes or have attempted suicide.

Nearly 12% (11.8%) of the state’s high school students attempted suicide in 2021. The national rate is 10.2%. Yet, the percentage of students who considered suicide was lower than the national rate at 21.5% compared to 22.2%.

South Dakota children are above the national rate in obtaining services for counseling.

The data is on children aged 3-17 years who have one of the three diagnosed conditions: depression, anxiety problems, or behavioral or conduct problems. These children are grouped according to whether or not they received treatment from a mental health professional during the past 12 months, according to the report.

The report said 9.3% said they did not need or did not receive care compared to the national rate of 10.5%.

Fifty-two percent (51.8%) of the state’s children said they did not have a problem obtaining needed mental health care from 2018 to 2021. Nationally, it was 48.4% who did not have a problem.

The report is comprehensive, Biel said. Any non-profit that works with children will be able to find useful data and information in the report, she said. The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment is also available to give presentations on the report, Biel said.