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Durham Receives 'C' In Kid-Friendly Survey

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DURHAM — A new Kid-Friendly report -- which measures how friendly individual cities are to the needs of children -- gives Durham a "C," an improvement over the "D" grade in 1998. Still, several Bull City advocates are more bullish on their community than the Kid-Friendly data samplers.

The report gives Durham credit for a good economy and low unemployment. The report also likes the city's abundance of park space and gives the city extra credit for a Teen-Focus program that provides evening recreation and help with school work. But in education, public safety and health issues, Durham received a merely "average" rating.

Durham County Health Director Brian Latourno says the report's data is flat out wrong. It shows Durham with an infant mortality rate at 12.8 per 1,000 live births. The latest data from North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics shows Durham County doing three whole points better than that.

"Our infant mortality statistics are equivalent to Orange County and other high-standard communities, so we think we're doing a pretty, good job," he says.

Under the category of public safety, the report gives Raleigh and Fayetteville a "B." Durham gets a "C." The report shows more violent and property crime, but people in Durham say they are seeing less crime, not more.

Lt. Ed Sarvis of the Durham Police Department says the report does not reflect recent progress -- progress made through youth intervention programs and citizen groups like Partners Against Crime.

"What we've seen is an actual 20 percent drop in crime from mid-year compared to 1998," Sarvis says.

"Some of the time when you look at these reports, they can be very misleading. They can be inflammatory," Latourno says.

In the category of education, the Kid-Friendly Report looks at test scores and class sizes. Raleigh, Fayetteville and Durham each received a grade of "C".


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