The lives of over 1.2 billion children across the globe are threatened by widespread poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. This sobering information was released in a report by Save the Children in advance of International Children’s Day, and it also includes a ranking of the countries where childhood is most and least threatened. Due to America’s huge wealth and resources, it should rank high on the list, right? Well, it doesn’t. In fact, the U.S. ranking is far lower than we expected.
Despite the fact that, according to a ranking released by Forbes last November, America is the 12th-richest country in the world, it ranks 36th out of 175 on Save the Children’s list of Best and Worst Places to Be a Kid — smack dab in the middle of Belarus and Russia. Oof.
Just to give you an idea, the United Kingdom and Canada rank 22nd and 24th, respectively, which means the United States lags significantly behind other developed nations. Singapore took the top spot, followed (unsurprisingly) by Norway, Sweden and Finland. Because does anyone ever beat the Nordics in terms of human rights and well-being?
Save the Children’s state-by-state analysis found that children living in rural areas are more affected by poverty than their peers in urban areas. And in 90 percent of U.S. states, rural poverty rates are higher than urban rates. In Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, for example, a staggering 1 in 3 children in rural areas live in poverty.
“Children in rural America are more likely to die in infancy, miss out on meals, become pregnant as teenagers and not attend college,” Mark Shriver, Save the Children’s senior vice president for U.S. programs and advocacy, said in a press release. “Rural child poverty rates have been persistently high for at least three generations in the U.S.”
In a call to action, Save the Children is asking all governments to prioritize the welfare of children by ensuring they have access to education and aren’t subject to malnutrition, forced marriage or child labor.
“Without urgent action, we’ll never meet the promises made three years ago by every country at the United Nations to ensure every child is in school, protected, healthy and alive by 2030 — governments can and must do more to give every child the best possible start in life,” Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children, stated in the press release.
The bottom line is that the United States has the resources to help our children whose lives are affected by poverty; it’s just not doing it. It’s high time for the government to take the urgent action requested by Miles. In fact, it’s long overdue.