Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Positives in Our Quality of Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many Positives in Our Quality of Life

Article excerpt

It has been a proud few weeks for Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, both locally and on the national stage.

The city was showcased during the Republican presidential debate for its beautiful University of North Florida campus and its classy airport.

The JAX Chamber has a great story to tell in promoting the area.

In recent weeks, graduation rates for the Duval County public schools set impressive new highs with the state's most demanding requirements.

Now comes the annual Quality of Life Progress Report from Jacksonville Community Council Inc. filled with many positive trends.

CRIME AND SAFETY

Overall crime is decreasing.

The murder rate reached its lowest point since JCCI started tracking it.

Since 2007, the murder rate has dropped by a startling 35.2 percent.

This came about because the city decided to stop quietly accepting the state's highest per capita rate and to wage a citywide campaign to do something about it.

And when this city unifies in a common goal, the result is almost always a positive one.

In addition, motor vehicle accidents decreased for the fourth year in a row.

More importantly, Jacksonville residents say they feel safer in their neighborhoods.

HEALTH AND WELFARE

Important reductions were tracked in new HIV cases, down by nearly one-third. The trend had been up for four years.

Suicide, a key indicator of mental health, is trending positively. For seniors, the most vulnerable age group, the drop was 11 percent. JCCI Forward had courageously tackled the issue of youth suicide despite the stigma about talking about mental illness. In most U.S. cities, more people die by suicide than homicide.

Another positive indicator that has been trending well is infant mortality, one of the key signs of a community's overall health.

Race relations are improving in the afterglow of the election of a black mayor. Like the election of a black sheriff, it made the city feel good about itself. The proportion of those perceiving racism as a problem in Jacksonville dropped from 53 percent to 49 percent.

The rate of births to teen mothers has dropped to the lowest level since tracking it began, saving these mothers and generations of children from the terrible hurdles involved in children raising children. …

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