Editorial: JP’s missing children

Nearly 1,170 children are missing from JP.

That is the population plunge in the 17-and-under age category between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

JP still has a lot of kids: 6,300, about 17 percent of the neighborhood population.

But that drop-off is fairly staggering, especially considering that the adult population rose at the same time. It runs counter to the parade of SUV-sized strollers that crowd JP’s sidewalks, the toddlers who swarm the tot lots, the youth organizations that shape our culture. So what’s going on behind the numbers?

The Census is just the facts, Mom. It doesn’t explain itself. But it could well be that many of today’s kids are not here to stay.

Hundreds of JP apartments were converted into condos during the housing bubble, often by evicting the residents. The new condos have been magnets for well-off young couples seeking a taste of urban life. Babies are born. The tot lots fill. Then school age arrives, and the couples head for a bigger suburban house in a better school district.

The Census doesn’t track which kids go where. It doesn’t tell you that there are condo buildings in JP that are essentially expensive, long-stay hotels with perpetual for-sale signs out front.

That might only be part of the story. But a 15 percent drop in the youth population is no accident. It’s a decision.

JP has decided that it needs far fewer kids to keep this neighborhood vibrant when we’re gone.

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