Physical Environment and Safety
A broader set of indicators than those presented in this section is needed to fully understand and monitor children's physical environment and safety. Additional indicators are needed on:
- Body burden measurements. Children are exposed to many different contaminants in the environment. Measures of contaminants in air, water, land, and food provide indirect indications of children's potential exposure to these contaminants. Both environmental and body burden measurements (e.g., levels of contaminants in blood and urine) are needed to more fully characterize children's exposures. Increasing efforts are under way to assess exposures through body burden measurements and to develop children's indicators based on these measurements.
- Environmental quality. Although this report provides indicators for contaminants in both outdoor and indoor air, regular sources of national data are needed to assess indoor air contaminants other than environmental tobacco smoke (e.g., pesticides) that are commonly encountered in homes, schools, and day care settings. Data are needed to better characterize levels of contaminants in children's drinking water. Indicators are also needed for food and soil contaminants and for cumulative exposures to multiple environmental contaminants that children encounter daily.
- Exposure to violence. Although this report provides indicators for direct crime victimization, child maltreatment, and child and adolescent injury and mortality, regular sources of national data are needed to assess children's exposure to violence, including witnessing violence in the home, school, and community. Research suggests that witnessing violence can have detrimental effects similar to being a direct victim of violence. Additional work is needed to develop a national indicator for exposure to violence.
- Homelessness. In this report, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has presented 2009 data on the numbers of homeless children at a single point in time and the number of homeless children served by shelters and transitional housing. The Forum is encouraged by the increasing availability of data on homelessness. Continuing data improvements are needed to estimate the prevalence of homeless children with greater accuracy. Additional information is also needed about the characteristics of homeless children and consequences of homelessness for families and children.