Saturday, June 2, 2012

#1 in War and Wealth, Next to Last in Child Well Being

DATA DRIVEN VIEW POINT: Many people in America seem highly focused on making sure a fetus is protected so that a child is born.  But once born, America is doing a louse job of assuring all children receive the proper care they need to become healthy, productive adults. A new report is out by UNICEF that compares just how poorly we are doing compared with other economically advanced nations.  The right to life vs. the right of children to have their basic needs met is one of the great American paradoxes that we need to fully examine.
U.S. Child Poverty Second Highest Among Developed Nations: Report
Can government spending lift poor children from poverty?
A new report from UNICEF suggests it's possible. The latest edition of UNICEF's report on child poverty in developed countries found that 30 million children in 35 of the world's richest countries live in poverty. Among those countries, the United States ranks second on the scale of what economists call "relative child poverty" -- above Latvia, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and 29 others. Only Romania ranks higher, with 25.5 percent of its children living in poverty, compared with 23.1 percent in the U.S.

Adding here  to the Huffington story are some fact from the UNICEF report and some additional details from a 2011 UNICEF report on childhood poverty in America.
According to the UNICEF Report, childhood deprevation was also examined among the 29 most economically advanced nations.  The US ranked next to last.  It was measured as the percentage of children (aged 1 to 16) who lack two or more of the following 14 items because the households in which they live cannot afford to provide them.    

1. Three meals a day
2. At least one meal a day with meat, chicken or fish (or a vegetarian equivalent)
3. Fresh fruit and vegetables every day
4. Books suitable for the child’s age and knowledge level (not including schoolbooks)
5. Outdoor leisure equipment (bicycle, roller-skates, etc.)
6. Regular leisure activities (swimming, playing an instrument, participating in youth organizations etc.)
7. Indoor games (at least one per child, including educational baby toys, building blocks, board games, computer games etc.)
8. Money to participate in school trips and events
9. A quiet place with enough room and light to do homework
10. An Internet connection
11. Some new clothes (i.e. not all second-hand)
12. Two pairs of properly fitting shoes (including at least one pair of all-weather shoes)
13. The opportunity, from time to time, to invite friends home to play and eat
14. The opportunity to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, name days, religious events, etc.

Here is some additional background on US Child Poverty, that is disturbing.


CDF’s new report The State of America's Children 2011 finds children have fallen further behind in many of the leading [child welfare] indicators over the past year as the country slowly climbs out of the recession. This is a comprehensive compilation and analysis of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on population, poverty, family structure, family income, health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence. The report provides key child data showing alarming numbers of children at risk: children are the poorest age group with 15.5 million children—one in every five children in America—living in poverty, and more than 60 percent of fourth, eighth and 12th grade public school students are reading or doing math below grade level.

View this year’s interactive report or download the document.
Here are a few highlights:

The portrait of continuing and worsening racial and income inequality is clear as we look at the state of America’s children today. Rather than moving forward, we are moving backwards. Programs and services that we know can help children thrive [snip] are threatened with federal cuts or program changes that will unravel the safety net for poor and low income children.
How America Ranks Among Industrialized Countries in Investing in and Protecting Children
[Things we are first in:]
1st in gross domestic product
1st in number of billionaires
1st in number of persons incarcerated
1st in health expenditures
1st in student expenditures
1stin military technology
1st in defense expenditures
1st in military weapons exports

[Things our children should be first in:]
17th in reading scores
22nd in low birth weight rates
23rd in science scores
30th in infant mortality rates
31st in math scores
31st in the gap between the rich and the poor
Last in relative child poverty
Last in adolescent birth rates (ages 15 to 19)
Last in protecting our children against gun violence

The United States and Somalia (which has no legally constituted government) are the only two United Nations members that have failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

If we compare just Black child well-being in America to child well-being in other nations, according to UNICEF:

70 nations have lower infant mortality rates including Thailand and Costa Rica.
144 nations have a lower incidence of low birthweight, including the Dominican
  Republic, Nigeria and Kazakhstan.
Black women in the United States are more likely to die due to pregnancy
   complications than women in 54 other nations, including Iran and Albania.

AS OF 2009:

A total of 15.5 million children, or one in every five children in America, lived in poverty,  an increase of nearly four million children since 2000.

Almost half—6.9 million—of all poor children lived in extreme poverty, defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level ($11,025 for a family of four). Just over one-third (2.4 million) of the children living in extreme poverty were under the age of five
There were more poor Hispanic children (5.6 million) than poor Black (4.0 million) or poor White (4.9 million) children. Hispanic children experienced the largest single-year increase in 2009.

In 2009, more than one in three Black children and one in three Hispanic children, compared to more than one in ten White non-Hispanic children, lived in poverty.

Almost 60 percent of all children in poverty lived in single-parent families. However, married couple families were not immune to the effects of the recession with 2.2 million married couple families – nearly nine percent more than in 2008 – living in poverty in 2009.

Two-thirds of poor children live in families in which at least one family member works

More than half of all poor children and half of the children living in extreme poverty live in eight states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan).

The number of homeless preschool-age children increased by 43 percent in the past two school years. The number of homeless children and youth enrolled in public schools increased 41 percent between the 2006-2007 and the 2008-2009 school years.

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