Special Report

Worst Cities to Raise Children

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

5. Monroe, LA
> Preschool enrollment: 33.8% (lowest 20%)
> High school graduation rate: 81.0% (lowest 20%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 70.4% (lowest 20%)
> Property crime rate: 4,758 crimes per 100,000 people (highest 10%)

Of the two Louisiana metro areas on this list, Monroe ranks as the worst. Crime can have wide-reaching effects on the entire community, contributing to poorer mental health and economic issues — and crime rates in Monroe are high. There were 4,758 property crimes for every 100,000 metro area residents in 2017, more than double the comparable national property crime rate.

More serious violent crimes are also relatively common in Monroe. There were 935 violent crimes — a classification comprising murder, rape, robbery, and aggrevated assault — for every 100,000 people in the metro area in 2017. The same year, the national violent crime rate was 383 incidents per 100,000 people.

Source: michael_richardson / Flickr

4. Goldsboro, NC
> Preschool enrollment: 29.8% (lowest 10%)
> High school graduation rate: 82.5%
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 47.5% (lowest 10%)
> Property crime rate: 2,885 crimes per 100,000 people

Goldsboro, North Carolina, is one of just a small share of U.S. metro areas in which more than 70% of 3- and-4-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool, preventing them from gaining the same vital cognitive development as their peers in preschool.

Many people in the metro area face serious challenges to leading a healthy lifestyle. More than a third of Goldsboro area residents under 18 years old live below the poverty line, and less than half of all residents have access to a place where they can get physical activity.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

3. Albuquerque, NM
> Preschool enrollment: 41.5%
> High school graduation rate: 70.3% (lowest 10%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 84.8%
> Property crime rate: 5,499 crimes per 100,000 people (highest 10%)

Albuquerque ranks as one of the three worst cities to raise children in large part because of how dangerous it is. The metro area has the highest property crime rate in the nation, with nearly 5,500 reported incidents per 100,000 residents, well more than double the U.S. property crime rate. It also ranks fourth among all metro areas in violent crime, with 1,085 incidents per 100,000 people. Such high crime levels contribute to an unsafe and stressful environment for adults and children alike.

Source: AllenS / Wikimedia Commons

2. Farmington, NM
> Preschool enrollment: 46.8%
> High school graduation rate: 65.9% (lowest 10%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 55.0% (lowest 10%)
> Property crime rate: 2,783 crimes per 100,000 people

Farmington, along with Albuquerque, is one of two New Mexico metro areas to rank among the top three worst places to raise children. A quality education is important in setting a child up for success in their adult life, but Farmington kids often do not finish school. Farmington has a high school graduation rate of just 65.9%, the lowest of any U.S. metro area.

Just 55.0% of Farmington area residents have access to areas such as parks and playgrounds, where adults and children alike can be active.

Source: DMartinez-Photo / Getty Images

1. Fairbanks, AK
> Preschool enrollment: 29.8% (lowest 10%)
> High school graduation rate: 69.6% (lowest 10%)
> Pop. with access to areas for exercise: 75.4%
> Property crime rate: 4,664 crimes per 100,000 people (highest 10%)

Fairbanks, Alaska, ranks as the worst place in America to raise children. It is one of just a small share of metro areas with a preschool enrollment rate lower than 30%. Fairbanks is also one of just three metro areas with a high school graduation rate lower than 70%. Nationwide, the graduation rate is 84.6%.

Fairbanks is also one of the most dangerous places in the country. It has the sixth highest property crime rate among metro areas at 4,664 crimes per 100,000 people. It also has the second highest murder rate in the country, at 28.4 homicides per 100,000 people — more than five times the U.S. murder rate.

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