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  • Human Rights Research Center

Addressing Ongoing Failures to Protect Our Children in Every U.S. State

September 20, 2023

[Image credit: Ben Wiseman for Human Rights Watch]

Cited article by Callie King-Guffey and Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch

HRRC is dismayed by the current situation regarding the rights and protection of children in the United States. We join Human Rights Watch in promoting awareness and drawing attention to the critical issues of child poverty, child marriage, and child labor that persist in the country.

News Brief

Early last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the child poverty rate more than doubled in 2022, resulting in 5.1 million children suffering from a lack of food, resources, and education. A recent scorecard by Human Rights Watch assessed U.S. state compliance with international child rights standards, including child marriage, corporal punishment, child labor, and juvenile justice. The findings were concerning, as not a single state received an A or B grade, and only four states earning a C. The remaining states received D or F grades. While some progress has been made, such as banning child marriage and improving juvenile justice laws in certain states, the U.S. still faces significant challenges in protecting its children, including child sentencing, juvenile jurisdiction, and corporal punishment in schools.

In the U.S., many of these child rights issues are left to individual states rather than being addressed at the federal level. Child sentencing to life in prison is still allowed in 22 states. Additionally, the practice of child marriage, despite being recognized as a human rights violation by the U.S. State Department, remains legal in 41 states. While recent reforms have shown bipartisan support for strengthening child protections, it is crucial for lawmakers in every state to address these gaps in protection and collaborate to safeguard children from physical abuse, early marriages, and dangerous labor conditions, ultimately improving children in the U.S. for a better future.

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