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New Report: The State of America’s Children Is Shameful

The latest data illustrates the harmful impacts of our national policy failures on children—especially children of color

Today, the Children’s Defense Fund released the latest update of its landmark report, The State of America’s Children® 2020. With detailed data and stories of real children across the country, the report makes it clear that children—especially children of color—are disproportionately harmed by our nation’s failure to invest in them and protect their safety and well-being.

The report reveals an array of alarming statistics that shine a light on the state of America’s children:

  • Nearly 12 million children—approximately 1 in 6—are poor, 73 percent of whom are children of color.
  • One in six children live in food-insecure households, with Black and Hispanic children twice as likely to lack adequate nutritious good.
  • Nearly 4.3 million lack health coverage, and that number is on the rise for the first time in a decade.
  • Nearly three-quarters of Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native public school eighth graders are not proficient in reading or math.
  • Every 47 seconds a child is abused or neglected.
  • The children and teens killed by guns in 2017 would fill 170 classrooms.

“A nation should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable—and most valuable—members: its children. Our latest report proves that America is falling shamefully short,” said Max Lesko, National Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. “The situation is especially dire for our children of color, who are disproportionately harmed by our collective failure to advance policies that ensure every child has a chance to succeed. Neglecting our nation’s children is immoral, unjust and short-sighted—and America does so at its own peril.”

The most recent edition of the advocacy group’s annual report provides alarming statistics, true stories, and detailed data across 11 issues impacting children’s lives: child population, child poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child hunger and nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice and gun violence. For each area, the report includes data tables with state-by-state breakdowns and breakdowns by race and ethnicity. The report also includes a special section in each chapter about the specific harms felt by immigrant children and children in mixed status families due to the callous and cruel policies of the current administration.

The report provides advocates, policymakers, parents and families, community and faith leaders, educators and others with a comprehensive tool to make the case for greater investment in programs that help children and to end policies and dismantle broken systems that harm America’s children.

“2020 is a critical year for our nation, and for our nation’s children. We have the opportunity to decide who we are, and whether we are a country that stands up for its children,” said Kathleen King, Interim Policy Director. “We hope that advocates and lawmakers alike will use this report to push for the changes we need to make sure every child—regardless of their zip code, the color of their skin, or how much money their parents make—has a chance to thrive in the wealthiest nation on earth.”

To explore The State of America’s Children® 2020, click here.

To learn more about the Children’s Defense Fund’s work to end child poverty and ensure that every child in America has a chance to succeed, click here.

Each Day In America:

5 children are killed by abuse or neglect.

8 children or teens die by suicide.

9 children or teens are killed with a gun.

22 children or teens die from accidents.

50 children or teens are injured with a gun.

59 children or teens are injured or killed with a gun.

61 babies die before their first birthday.

126 children are arrested for violent crimes.

248 children are arrested for drug crimes.

589 public school students are corporally punished.*

773 babies are born into extreme poverty.

826 babies are born without health insurance.

860 babies are born with low birthweight.

1,683 babies are born into poverty.

1,844 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.

1,995 children are arrested.

2,906 high school students drop out.*

14,640 public school students are suspended.*

* Based on 180 school days a year

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