Need for Children's Rights
Children in the USA
Every day in America
3 young people under age 25 die from HIV infection.
6 children commit suicide.
13 children are homicide victims.
14 children are killed by firearms.
81 babies die.
280 children are arrested for violent crimes.
443 babies are born to mothers who had late or no prenatal care.
781 babies are born at low birth-weight.
1,403 babies are born to teen mothers.
1,827 babies are born without health insurance.
2,430 babies are born into poverty.
2,756 children drop out of high school every school day.
3,436 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
5,753 children are arrested.
8.470 children are reported abused or negleted.
11.3 million children are without health insurance.
14.5 million children live in poverty.
Where America Stands
Among industrialized countries, the United States ran
1st in gross domestic product
1st in the number of millionaires and billionaires
1st in health technology
1st in military technology
1st in military experts
1st in defense spending
10th in eighth-grade science scores
16th in living standards
17th in rates of low-birth-weight births
18th in the income gap between rich and poor children
18th in infant mortality
21st in eighth-grade math scores
Last in protecting our children against gun violence
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
U.S. children under age 15 are:
12 times more likely to die from gunfire,
16 times more likely to be murdered by a gun,
11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and
9 times more likely to die in a firearm accident.
than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
Children's Defense Fund 1998 Priorities
Ensuring every -- not every other -- American child a Healthy Start in life. We seek to ensure effective state implementation of the recently enacted $48 billion State children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to educate families about CHIP and Medicaid, and to enroll all eligible children.
Ensuring every child a Head Start in life by providing parents quality, affordable child care options for all preschool and school-age children, with the assistance of employers, community institutions, and federal, state, and local governments.
Ensuring every child a Fair Start in life by educating the public and policy makers about the unacceptable moral, human, and economic costs of permitting 14.5 million children to grow up poor and by mobilizing the nation to end child poverty as we know it. Jobs with decent wages, community economic development, and a quality education for every child must become overarching national priorities.
Ensuring every child a Safe Start in life by preventing violence against and by children. Every community must be safe from violent adult and youth offenders. But we oppose the growing criminalization of youths, especially minority youths, and the detention of nonviolent youth offenders and children who are truants and runaways in adult jails, a practice forbidden by current law. We support more effective community-based prevention and interventions like after-school and summer programs, mentoring, and parent training.
Ensuring every child a Moral Start in life through creative leadership development and community capacity building to ensure an intergenerational cadre of effective servant-leaders committed to building and sustaining a movement to Leave No Child Behind.
Five Questions All American Citizens Should Ask Ourselves and Our Political Leaders About National Priorities
1. Why is our nation continuing to spend $265 billion a year, $5.1 billion a week, $727 million a day, and $30 million an hour on "National Defense" in a post-Cold War era with no towering external enemies?
Our military budget exceeds the total military expenditures of the 12 next - largest spenders - including Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany, and China - combined. Congress gave the Pentagon $9 billion more than it requested in 1996, while cutting $54 billion from child nutrition programs for poor and legal immigrant children and families. The military plans to purchase three new tactical fighter systems that will cost $355 billion -- systems the US General Accounting Office says we don't need and can't afford -- at a time when millions of struggling parents left behind in the global economy need better-paying jobs and millions of children need health care, quality child care, education and housing.
Every 14 hours we spend more on the military than we do annually on programs to prevent and treat child abuse.
Every 29 hours we spend more on the military than we do annually on summer jobs for unemployed youths.
Every six days we spend more on military than we do annually on the Child Care and Development Block Grant for child care for low-income working parents.
Every 11 days we spend more on the military than we do annually on Title I compensatory education for disadvantaged children.
2. Why, with over 200 million guns in circulation already killing a child every hour and a half, does our country manufacture or import a new gun every eight seconds?
American children under age 15 are 12 times more likely to die from gunfire than children in 25 other industrialized nations combined. Virtually all violent youth crime is gun-driven...Why seek to protect guns rather than protect children from guns.
When the polio virus killed 2,700 children and adults in its peak year - 7 a day - we declared a national emergency. Why don't we declare a national emergency to stop the deadly gun virus that kills almost twice as many children - 5,285 a year, 14 a day - in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and parks?
3. How much do we truly value children and families when we don't put our money and respect behind our words?
4. Why should every 66 year old in the United States be guaranteed health coverage and not every 6 year old or 16 year old?
5. Why is the United States, save Somalia (which lacks a legally constitued government to act), alone among nations in failing to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child?
(taken from the State of America's Children Yearbook 1998 (Washington DC: Children's Defense Fund)
Child Murders: Nearly 3/4 of all murders of children in the industrialized world occur in the United States of America.
Death Penalty for (Black) Kids: The United States is the world-leader in sentencing children to death. Since 1990, only Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the USA are known to have executed persons for crimes they committed as children. Of these, the US has executed more juvenile offenders than any other nation. In the US 75% of all juvenile offenders executed this century were African American. 2/3s of all persons executed this decade for juvenile crimes were African American. There are currently nearly 60 persons on death row in the USA who were sentenced to death as juveniles. The USA remains the only industrialized country with the death penalty.
Militarism in Schools: "Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a military run training program for high school students, is now found in more than 2,600 US schools. More than 330,000 students are enrolled in JROTC classes nationwide. Most JROTC programs are in big-city schools, in rural areas with below average college attendance rates.
As part of an academic curriculum, Junior ROTC falls short. The program brings retired military personnel into high school classrooms to teach a military curriculum. According to a federal regulation (32 Code of Federal Regulations 542.5:3c), the "educational" goal of the JROTC program is to "create favorable attitudes and impressions toward the Services and toward careers in the Armed Forces."
"The expansion of JROTC in high schools runs counter to the current national trend towards higher academic standards. College admission policies in states requiring a core curriculum for graduation indicate that students are not likely to receive credit for JROTC when they apply for college. JROTC may in fact divert students from taking the courses they need for college admission or skills for a career and a full, satisfying life."
Malnutrition. 'Over 200 million children in developing countries under the age of five are malnourished...Malnutrition contributes to more than half of the nearly 12 million under-five deaths in developing countries each year. Malnourished children often suffer the loss of precious mental capacities. They fall ill more often. If they survive, they may grow up with lasting mental or physical disabilities... It undermines the struggle of the United Nations for peace, equity and justice. It is an egregious violation of child rights that undermines virtually every aspect of UNICEF's work for the survival, protection and full development of the world's children...More attention is lavished on the gyrations of the world stock markets than on malnutrition's vast destructive potential -- or on the equally powerful benefits of sound nutrition.'
Child Labour. 'Intolerable forms of child labour are so grave an abuse of human rights that the world must come to regard them in the way it does slavery -- as something unjustifiable under any circumstances.'
Around 1 billion people -- one out of every six on the planet -- are between 10 and 19 years of age, 85% in developing countries. And they face profound obstacles:
Around the globe, 73 million children age 10 to 14 are working -- not counting the tens of millions, mostly girls, believed to be in domestic service.
In developing countries, 59 percent of girls and 48 percent of boys are not enrolled in secondary school.'
Children in war. 'Recent developments in warfare have significantly heightened the dangers for children. During the last decade, it is estimated...that child victims have included:
2 million killed;
4-5 million disabled;
12 million left homeless;
more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents;
some 10 million psychologically traumatized.
The increasing number of child victims is primarily explained by the higher porportion of civilian deaths in recent conflicts. In the wars of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, only about half of the victims were civilians.
In the later decades of this century the proportion of civilian victims has been rising steadily; in World War II it was two thirds, and the end of the 1980's it was almost 90 pecent...'
'When ethnic loyalties prevail, a perilous logic clicks in. The escalation from ethnic superiority to ethnic cleansing to genocide, as we have seen, can become an irreversible process. Killing adults is then not enough; future generations of the enemy -- their children must also be eliminated. As one political commentator expressed it in a 1994 radio broadcast before violence erupted in Rwanda, "To kill the big rats, you have to kill the little rats."...Sexual violence is particularly common in ethnic conflicts.'
'...One of the most deplorable developments in recent years has been the increasing use of young children as soldiers...Recently, in 25 countries, thousands of children under the age of 16 have fought in wars. In 1988 alone, they numbered as many as 200,000.'