We hear politicians hell bent on destroying any governmental “social” programs saying that we have to make these drastic cuts for the sake of our children or grandchildren. Hinting that we are placing a burden on their future, “mortgaging” the future is the term most stated.
I think they and us need to be grounded to the reality of the “Right Now” when it comes to children in America. Let us consider facts and not rhetoric.
There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity. Food insecurity is the household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Food insecurity rates among households with children are substantially higher than those found in the general population, reports Feeding America, which along with network members supplies food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. In Washington D.C., the “child food insecurity rate” is 32.3%.
Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States. Perhaps the greatest victims of the economic nightmare that is unfolding right in front of our eyes are our children. The overall economic numbers are really bad, but when you examine the impact that this economy is having on children things get really horrifying. Today, 1 in 5 American children live in poverty and 1 in 4 American children are on food stamps. Experts tell us that about 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point before they reach the age of 18. Up to half a million American children are homeless even as you read this. And yet we continue to insist that we are the wealthiest nation in the world. Well, if we are so wealthy, then why are so many millions of our children suffering so desperately? More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.
There are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States every single year. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4. It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. 31% percent of women in prison in the United States were abused as children. Over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.
About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion. Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy. Abused teens are 3 times less likely to practice safe sex, putting them at greater risk for STDs.
How can we even consider ourselves “civilized”, let alone thinking we are the “best” in the world as a civilization when we currently face realities like we now face? In fact, we should be doing the exact opposite of cutting programs, and instead should be heavily investing in our CHILDREN NOW!!
How long do we remain silent as the education system, Medicaid, and school nutritional programs are being slashed beyond bare bones? How long do we allow the imbeciles to dictate the current and future course of the very foundations of the principles that made America…. America?
It is my strongest hope that the next election cycle, each and everyone of us will step up to the full responsibility of being a citizen. That means we will all vote and we will all vote based on being truly informed.