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Dire State Of America's Children
By Stephen Lendman
A new Children's Defense Fund (CDF) report shows the dire state of children in America today. Titled, "The State of America's Children: 2011," it can be accessed in full through the following link:
Focusing mainly on 2008 - 2010, it ranked America among industrialized countries "investing in and protecting children" as follows:
First in GDP
First in billionaires
First in prison population size
First in health expenditures
First in student expenditures
First in military expenditures, technology, and global wars
First in weapons exports
17th in reading scores
22nd in low birthweight rates
23rd in science scores
30th in infant mortality rates
31st in math scores
31st in wealth gap between rich and poor
Last in relative child poverty
Last in adolescent birth rates (ages 15 - 19)
Last in protecting children from gun violence
Only America and Somalia (with no legally constituted government because America ravaged it with war, poverty and starvation) haven't ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Other disturbing information includes:
Every second a public school student is suspended.
Every eight seconds a high school student drops out.
Every 18 seconds an unwed mother gives birth.
Every 20 seconds a public school student is corporally punished.
Every 21 seconds a child is arrested.
Every 34 seconds a child is born in poverty.
Every 42 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
Every 42 seconds a child is abused or neglected.
Every minute a teenage mother gives birth.
Every two minutes a low birthweight child is born.
Every four minutes a child is arrested for illegal drug possession.
Every eight minutes a child is arrested for committing violence.
Every 18 minutes a baby dies before age one.
Every 45 minutes an accident kills a child or teen.
Every three hours a child is shot and killed.
Every five hours a child or teen commits suicide.
Every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect.
Every 16 hours a mother dies from childbirth or pregnancy complications.
Moreover, growing hunger, homelessness, and nutritional deficiencies contribute most to low birth weight, infant mortality, and poor health. At issue is political Washington's indifference.
America's greatest national security threat results from not investing in and educating every child. Most in all racial and income groups, and nearly 80% of public school Black and Hispanic children can't read or do math at fourth, eighth or 12th grade level standards, among those who haven't dropped out.
It shows as the rage to privatize grows, focusing on bottom line priorities, not teaching or caring about children matter.
Families today in America are "more fragile as jobs are lost, unemployment compensation has been reduced, public assistance and public health programs restrict access, housing foreclosures continue and affordable housing becomes scarcer."
States spend three times more per prisoner than per public school student. Child poverty increased by almost 10% between 2008 and 2009, and keeps growing. In 2009, over 20% of children were impoverished, the number rising annually.
With Main Street America mired in Depression, children are falling further behind in poverty, health, education, abuse, neglect, and early childhood development.
Black children face "the worse crisis since slavery." Hispanics and Native American ones aren't far behind. Notably children of color constitute almost 45% of our youth population. In 2019, they'll be a majority. Yet they've been marginalized and deprived "on virtually every measure of child well-being" and development.
Children need help but aren't getting it. Programs to support and develop them have been cut back, including:
-- TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997; benefits today, in fact, cover only 58% of what they did when the program began;
-- Medicaid;
-- CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program);
-- the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant;
-- WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children);
-- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program);
-- the National School Lunch Program;
-- Early Head Start and Head Start (providing comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low income children and families);
-- Child Care and Development Block Grant;
-- Title I Education Program for Disadvantaged Children;
-- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs;
-- Pell Grant aid for college tuitions;
-- Social Services Block Grant; and
-- other programs facing federal cuts from Washington's rage to control America's national debt on the backs of society's least advantaged, elderly, and disabled; moreover, investing more on new generations to "protect our nation's economic future" has been sacrificed.
Policies in place for poor and disadvantaged children are on the chopping block for continued cuts. In fact, political Washington wants America's entire social contract eliminated to provide more funds for imperial wars and corporate handouts. That future awaits children now growing up.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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