Nation's 30 Leading Child Groups Plead For Election-Year Focus By Candidates, News Media on Plight of Millions of At-Risk U.S. Youths

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 General News
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"Invisible" Issue: Since Start of Afghan/Iraq Wars: 28,000 U.S. Children Dead Due to Abuse, Homicide or Suicide, 1.1 Million More Kids in Poverty, Another 4.4 Million Families Uninsured.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Millions of American children are in serious jeopardy today and that shameful fact should be a front-burner issue for candidates and the news media during the final two months of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, according to an urgent wake-up call issued today by Every Child Matters (ECM) and 30 of the nations' leading child-related organizations - including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America, and the National Association of Social Workers - along with noted pediatrician T. Berry Brazleton. The national news event took place on the same day that similar "Step Up for Kids" events are being held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How serious is the situation for millions of American children?

A recent UNICEF survey placed the U.S. 20th among 21 economically advanced nations in terms of overall child-well being. Yet the national tragedy suffered by millions of America's most vulnerable children is so far largely "invisible" in the 2008 election, while other issues dominate the headlines. The ECM Education Fund's Homeland Insecurity (2nd edition, 2008) points out that 13 million American children live in poverty, more than eight million are without health insurance, and three million are reported abused or neglected. Nearly two out of five (39 percent) of America's 73 million children now live in low-income families, with almost one in five children (18 percent) living below the official poverty line. White children account for 39 percent of low-income children, while 61 percent of black children and Hispanic children live in low-income families. The U.S. has the second-worst child poverty rate (after Mexico) among 26 of the world's most affluent nations.

To underscore the serious and worsening circumstances facing millions of U.S. children, ECM Education Fund calculates that, in the seven years since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001, roughly 28,000 U.S. children have died as a result of child abuse, suicide or homicide; 20 million American children were reported as abused; 1,135,000 more American children are in poverty; 4,450,000 additional Americans and their families have no health insurance; and 300,000 people, many of them with young children, were added to the U.S. prison population.

Michael R. Petit, author, "Homeland Insecurity" and founder/president, Every Child Matters and ECMEF, said: "The plight of millions of American children living on the knife's edge today may be the single biggest issue that is not getting the attention it deserves in the 2008 election and related media coverage. Research is clear that the negative factors now weighing down on these at-risk kids will require billions of taxpayer dollars to address. If we instead had a comprehensive national policy to protect our children, those wasted federal tax dollars could be used in a constructive way to promote good health, healthy child development, and stronger communities. That's what we need to be hearing about from candidates and the news media covering them."

"The time is right to make the health and well-being of America's Children a national priority," said Renee Jenkins, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The Academy is pleased to be partnering with Every Child Matters to make this a reality."

Elizabeth Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, executive director, National Association of Social Workers, said: "Social workers tirelessly advocate in federal and state legislature for individuals, families and communities to receive the supports they need to thrive. As a representative of the

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