Valuing Children

A UNICEF report ranking children’s well-being puts the U.S. in 26th place, and found that there does not appear to be a relationship between how wealthy a nation is, that is how high its per capita GDP is, and overall child well-being. The Netherlands was in the lead followed by Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden. At the bottom were Lithuania, Latvia and Romania. Two recent NYT’s stories by revealing our hidden values about children’s rights seem to give some explanation as to why this might be. As we may know there is now more policemen in schools, and that seems to translate as more children in court. “The most striking impact of school police officers so far,” says Erik Eckholm’s article, “…has been a surge in arrests or misdemeanor charges for essentially nonviolent behavior—including scuffles, truancy and cursing at teachers—that sends children into the criminal courts,” offenses that used to be handled in the principal’s office. The other article by Sonia Nazario who’s often written about the plight of immigrants and their children is about undocumented children who end up in court alone often without representation, since undocumented immigrants do not have right to a public defender. These children, she writes, “some as young as 2 years old—have no one to help them make the case that they should not be deported.” It’s not about the ranking, or being best, it’s just about valuing children and making the necessary changes to bring that about.