America Is the Greatest Country in the World and Should Be the Best Country in the World to Be a Child
America is the wealthiest country in the world, but among developed nations its ranking in regard to child welfare is extremely low. The most recent report by UNICEF (Report Card 11) compares the 29 member states of the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on progress toward securing the well-being of their children. The report studies 26 indicators clustered into five broad dimensions. As shown in Table 1, the United States ranks at or near the bottom in most of the indicators and 26th overall.
Without question, the U.S. devotes enormous resources to improving child welfare. Apart from the time and energy parents directly invest in their children’s lives, a huge number of professionals are dedicated to giving American children a good education, ensuring their health and safety, and supporting their emotional and physical development. These include primary and secondary school teachers, pediatricians and pediatric nurses, social workers and school psychologists, authors of children’s books and producers of family films, as well as coaches and administrators involved in youth sports leagues.
In addition, more than 100,000 nonprofit organizations across the country focus on one or several aspects of child welfare. These organizations promote breast feeding, advocate for children’s rights, push for more nutritious school lunches, and try to buffer the negative impact of child poverty, among many other worthwhile projects.
Still, compared with other nations, the U.S. does not give a prominent place to children and their interests in social policy discourse. The chief policymakers, including elected legislators at all levels of government, tend to marginalize children in their decision making and often fail to consider how proposed laws and regulations will affect this vulnerable population. Given this fact, it is perhaps not so surprising that the U.S. ranks low in the UNICEF report even though it has greater wealth and a stronger economy than the other nations that appear at the bottom of the list.
Child’s World America believes that part of the solution is to push the issue of child welfare into the center of public consciousness and that doing this requires increasing the coordination between the many groups and individuals working to improve children’s lives. At the moment, interdisciplinary communication and joint action are minimal, keeping child advocates and child-oriented professionals from making the impact that they otherwise could. To see what greater coordination might lead to, consider the success that AARP has had as a social and political force acting in the interests of seniors and the achievements of the Sierra Club in heightening public concern for the environment. The goal of Child’s World America is to play a similar role in coordinating the activities of people committed to improving child welfare and thus help to ensure that American children have the same opportunity as children in other countries to live a healthy, safe, and happy life.