Editorial: Well Being of Children At Risk
June is celebrated as the month of the child with:
- International Children’s Day – June 1
- Stand for Children Day – June 1
- National Children’s Day – June 12, 2016 (Second Sunday in June)
- World Day Against Child Labor – June 12
In reality there is not much to celebrate, child poverty affects, 23% of U.S children ( still the riches country in the world) and 50% worldwide.
1 billion children worldwide live in poverty and their families don’t have adequate shelter, safe water and healthcare
For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:
- 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
- 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
- 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
The child mortality rate by age 5 in the U.S is 6.5% higher than most western countries. Worldwide the infant and child mortality is at high as 15% in war torn nations like Afghanistan and as low as 1.8% in Monaco.
Healthcare for children has improved in the U.S since the Child Health Insurance Program was instituted in the early 1990’s and with the enactment the Affordable Health Care Act, now only 9% of U.S children do no have health insurance.
Even with better healthcare due to insurance coverage we have the highest number of cases of measles in 20 years due to parents withholding vaccinations due to their lack of understand infectious diseases.
- 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
- 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom)
Education improvements have been made, yeti the U.S.
- Children not attending preschool – 54% (63% for Hispanic Children)
- Fourth graders not proficient in reading- 66% (83% for African American Children)
- Eighth graders not proficient in math – 66% (86% for African American Children)
- High school students not graduating on time – 19% ( 32% for American Indians Children)
Worldwide 121 million children are not educated each year.
“Research tells us that the best predictors of success for children are a healthy start at birth and healthy development in the early years; being raised by two married parents; having adequate family income; doing well in school, graduating high school and completing postsecondary education or training; and young people avoiding teen pregnancy and substance abuse, staying out of trouble and becom-ing connected to work and opportunity. ” – Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Book.
What Can Be Done to Improve the Lives of Children
Opportunities for Moms – One fact that appears to consistently lead to improvement in the lives of children is that when their mothers lives improve, this includes economic, health, and education. If the mother is educated is is much more likely the child will be educated, if she has access toe economic opportunities her family is enriched, if she has healthcare her children are healthier,
A stronger labor market, an increase in job quality and wages – efforts to boost the education, and training levels of low-income parents, would help to reduce child poverty. As well a government programs to assist young parents who families are the poorest in the nation.
Universal Preschool – due the the importance of early brain development, preschool has been proven to increase school performance and increase the high school completion rate. Studies show that high school completion rates were roughly ten percentage points higher and rates of substance abuse and felony charges were roughly ten percentage points lower. Overall, kids who attended preschool had higher high school graduation rates, higher on-time graduation rates, higher college attendance, higher economic status, and higher incomes compared to the group who didn’t attend preschool.
Child Support Enforcement – the poorest children are those who grow up in single female head of households. Most single parents do not earn enough to adequately support their family. Ensuring that both parents, even when they don’t live together, contribute to the financial support of the children helps reduce child poverty and increases father participation ( emotional and social support of children) in families where the parents were never married or are divorced.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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