Picture a maternity ward at a hospital, a toddler’s birthday party, or a kindergarten classroom in the United States. Our hope for each child there, our promise to them, our vision for them is that, in the United States, they will each have an equal opportunity at success, happiness, and realizing their full potential. Tragically, this promise is broken and this vision is not a reality.
As Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus and First Focus Campaign for Children explains in “Renewing our Vision for America’s Children,” rather than being a world leader in quality of life for children and attainment of the American Dream, the United States is a “world leader in infant mortality, violence against children, and child poverty. We are one of just three nations (in the company of Somalia and the South Sudan) in the world that has failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite the concern and rhetoric, we fail our kids far too often.”
Is it possible that we are so used to hearing shocking statistics such as:
more than 1 in 5 of our nation’s children live in poverty,
nearly 8 million children lack health insurance coverage,
over 1 million students are homeless,
over 750,000 children are abused and neglected annually,
and over 1 in 5 students drop out before graduating from high school
that we are completely desensitized and have given up imagining this reality will ever change? Have we simply accepted that some children will thrive and others suffer? I hope not. As Lesley insists in his article, “we can and must do better.” But how?
We can start with a renewed vision, one that does not passively assume equal opportunity while dismissing the grim reality. Instead, we must acknowledge the widespread poverty and violence of today and commit ourselves to creating widespread well-being and opportunity for tomorrow.
“What is needed is a new and fresh vision for change from our nation’s leaders — at all levels. And child advocates across this country must redouble their efforts to demand change and progress at the local, state, and national levels… It’s time we recommit ourselves to a better America, a nation that sets high standards for its children and demands accountability. It takes a partnership of parents, schools, and communities to grow strong minds and bodies. But you can’t expect returns on investments you don’t make, and it’s time we started investing in our children again.”
By seeking comprehensive and sustainable solutions for change through necessary investments, we can in good faith hope, promise, and envision a vibrant future for each child in our hospitals, homes, and schools.
For further inspiration, read Lesley’s full article by clicking here.