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'For every two homeless children in 2007 there are now three,' explains Buchheit. 'There are 16 million children living on $5 a day for food. Half of America's public school kids qualify for subsidized lunches.' (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Disposable Children

Paul Buchheit

It may be the greatest hypocrisy of America's conservative leaders, that they demand control over a woman's body, but then show every sign of neglect after a child comes into the world. It reaches beyond neglect to disdain for the poor. In a perversely unequal nation in which the well-off blame impoverished people for their own struggles, the children of the poor become the innocent victims.

Children of all ages are deemed disposable:

The Littlest Children—Deprived of Their Most Important Year of School

Over half of America's 4-year-olds are NOT attending pre-school, even though numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. We're near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education.

Homeless Children—For Every US Family That Made $10 Million Since 2008, There is a Homeless Child in America

And it's getting worse. For every TWO homeless children in 2007 there are now THREE. There are 16 million children living on $5 a day for food. Half of America's public school kids qualify for subsidized lunches. Reassuringly, financier and CEO Peter Schiff said, "People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy."

School Kids—Living in "Combat Zones"

That's a description from Henry Giroux, who refers to schools as "combat zones where it is routine for many students to be subjected to metal detectors, surveillance cameras, uniformed security guards, weapons searches, and in some cases SWAT team raids and police dogs sniffing for drugs."

Students are "no longer viewed as a social investment in the future." Instead, with almost two-thirds of middle- and high-schools employing "school resource officers," the students—disproportionately minority children—are being redirected to the criminal justice system. The criminalizing reaches absurd levels:

  • Students throwing peanuts on a school bus being arrested for felony assault after a peanut hit the bus driver.
  • A police officer repeatedly hitting a student with a police baton, claiming it was "reasonable and necessary," receiving no punishment.
  • A student suspended for being a "danger to the staff." He was 3 years old at the time.

Hunger, Homelessness, Arrests—and SUICIDES

Over the past 20 years the suicide rate for black children nearly doubled, while decreasing significantly for white children.

Children Killed or Enslaved in Other Countries

Children's lives are at risk in other countries, but many Americans are lacking in knowledge or interest. Our drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians, including children, in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen.

Children are enslaved in India to weave carpets for Europe and America, enslaved in Bangladesh to make our clothing, enslaved in Africa's Ivory Coast to harvest our chocolate.

Meanwhile, in the world's financial centers, speculators sit at computer screens, far from the faces of the children, betting on the price of cocoa beans.

Who's to Blame?

In America, black parents are often blamed for family dysfunction, especially "absent fathers." But research refutes the myth, as the Pew Research Center found little difference between white and black fathers, and the Center for Disease Control found that black fathers are in many ways more involved with their kids than fathers in other racial groups.

But by heaping the blame on the victims, wealthy and well-positioned Americans can justify the neglect of our nation's children.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is an advocate for social and economic justice, and the author of numerous papers on economic inequality and cognitive science. He was recently named one of 300 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models. He is the author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (2008) and "Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income" (2017). Contact email: paul (at) youdeservefacts.org.

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