A recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report revealed a distressing state of affairs regarding children’s rights in the United States. This eerie report revealed children’s limited rights regarding marriage, labor, and corporal punishment, especially in conservative states touting “family values.”
Children’s Rights Violations
HRW unveiled a damning portrait of the rights of children in the United States, painting a bleak picture of their treatment, especially in states that champion “family values.”
According to HRW, an alarming number of states (41) in the U.S. allow children to be legally married, physically punished in schools, sentenced to life without parole, and even work in hazardous agricultural conditions.
The worst states for children’s rights are consistently found in the “pro-life” Bible Belt, aligning with a map of red-state America.
It’s an Issue Everywhere
While conservative states display a concerning lack of child protection, liberal states also lag in adequately safeguarding the rights of children.
The report fell short of addressing forced births, revealing how states banning abortion force children, including child rape victims, to carry pregnancies against their will.
More than a quarter of a million children were married off in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018, some as young as 10 years old. Most of these marriages involved underage girls and adult men.
Only nine U.S. states mandated legal adulthood before marriage, while nearly half of the states allowed 16-year-olds to enter into marriage. Shockingly, six states set no minimum marital age at all.
Activists who strive to raise the minimum marriage age faced opposition from Republican politicians and unexpected resistance from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in certain states.
Corporal Punishment Issue
Almost 50% of American children suffer from corporal punishment, an act considered child abuse. Shockingly, this abuse was legal as long as the children didn’t sustain severe injuries.
Only three states outright banned corporal punishment in public and private schools, while 22 states allowed it in schools without restrictions.
The legal landscape tolerated domestic violence against children, normalizing abuse by allowing parents to hit them without facing serious consequences.
Its Detrimental Effects
Children were demoted to a category where it was deemed acceptable for adults to assault and abuse them. Despite understanding the detrimental effects of corporal punishment, there was a lack of meaningful efforts to halt this practice from politicians across the US.
Unable to vote, children were left defenseless against a system that permitted wide leeway for adults to abuse them under the guise of punishment. The fundamental principle of not hitting people, especially defenseless children, remained controversial, reflecting a concerning societal stance on violence toward minors.
In a shocking revelation, adults continued to resort to physical punishment against children, even as society acknowledged the harmful consequences of such actions.
A shift in mindset and legislation is crucial to ensure a safer and more nurturing environment for children in the United States.
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