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How are USA’s children?

The United States has signed but not ratified (pledged to follow) the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that the USA are not legally bound by the UN Convention. Here, we state the rights that children (under 18) should have in countries that have ratified the convention. Do you think that the rights of the child are respected in the US?

73 million children

323 million people live in the United States and ca. 73 million of them are under 18. Around 30 million are under five years old.

More children are locked up in juvenile facilities and other institutions in the US than in most other industrialized countries. WCP Child Rights Hero Javier Stauring supports incarcerated children, and fights for restorative justice and children’s rights in the US. ©Joseph Rodriguez/WCPF

Legal status

At least 9 million people in the US are part of “mixed status” families, households in which one member or more is in the country legally and the others are not. Ca. 275,000 babies are born to undocumented immigrant parents, that are at risk of deportation.

Survive and grow

You have the right to life. The US is the only major industrialized country that does not guarantee prenatal care to pregnant women and rank higher than many industrialized countries when it comes to infant mortality.

Health and well-being

You have the right to food, clean water, medical care and the right to privacy when consulting an adult about any health problem. 4.5 million children in the US lack health insurance and therefore have less access to quality care than other children.

WCP Child Juror Taree from Los Angeles represent children who are homeless on the Jury. ©WCPF

A home, clothing, food and security

You have the right to a home, food, clothing, education, health care and security. 2,5 million US children are homeless. 1 in 6 children in the United States live in poverty. Children of color have a poverty rate triple that of white children. Poverty in childhood has profound, long-term effects, in terms of health, educational achievement, and earnings. America’s child poverty rate is one of the highest among industrialized nations.

At 12, Nick was homeless with his parents in California, USA, but got support from WCP Child Rights Hero Agnes Stevens and her organization School on Wheels to keep up with homework. ©Kim Naylor/WCPF


All children in the US attend school, however drop-out rates are higher for children of color and children who are poor. In disadvantaged areas there are significant gaps between how students are performing, and where they need to be. For children of color, children with disabilities, and children who are poor, these gaps are even more dramatic.

WCP Child Rights Hero Rachel Lloyd fights against domestic trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children in the US. ©Joseph Rodriguez/WCPF

Human trafficking

Up to 300,000 children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation each year in the US. The most frequent age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 12–14 years old. Children of color, children who are poor and in foster care, and LGBTQ youth, are especially vulnerable, as are girls in general.

Protection against violence

You have the right to protection against all forms of violence, including neglect, maltreatment, and abuse. Only 60 countries have forbidden all forms of corporal punishment for children. The US has not. 1,844 children are confirmed abused or neglected here each day. Gun violence saturates American children’s lives and is the second leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19. One child or teen in the US dies from a gun every 3 hours and 28 minutes.

Some children in the US become involved in selling drugs or sex at an early age, often because of pressure from adults. One of them was Shaquana. ©Joseph Rodriguez/WCPF

Hazardous child labour

You have the right to be protected against both economic exploitation and work that is hazardous to your health or which prevents you from going to school. All work is prohibited for children under 12. Some children are forced into the worst forms of child labour, such as being debt slaves, child soldiers, or used for commercial sexual exploitation. Some children are involved in selling drugs, often pressured by older youngsters and adults, and end up in juvenile facilities

Jamie Margolin is one of many young people in the US who are fighting climate change.

Your voice must be heard

You have the right to say what you think about any issue that affects you. The adults should listen to the child’s opinion before they make decisions, which must always be made in the best interest of the child!

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