US Children in Dire Straits

Havana. -Many US children are presently suffering extreme poverty, abuse and other ills, without anything being done to end these scourges.Recently, Michael Petit, president of the US governmental organization in defence of children's rights "Every Child Matters", asked why violence against children is much more acute in the US than in any other industrialized country.

Petit put in evidence one of the many problems affecting US children.

Statistical data show that in the last 10 years, it is estimated that 20,000 children died in their own homes because of family violence, almost four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to BBC World, a child dies in the US every five hours, as a consequence of abuse and negligence.

Conservative data of the US government show that 1,770 children lost their lives because of mistreatment in 2009. A recent report by the US Congress said the total may increase to almost 2,500 children.

BBC World warned that the US is the country with the worst abuse percentages in the world.

This situation tends to worsen, because while the US economy tries to recover, children's poverty is increasing, and state governments cut billions in services for children, which further weakens the nation's insurance net.

Minorities are the most affected. A report mentioned by Californian newspaper La Opinion said Hispanic students receive more punishment in school than whites.

The note added that high school students from minorities fail tests and are expelled more frequently than white students, through decisions taken by teachers and directors.

Children are the most vulnerable sector of US society. Nearly 17 million are suffering from food insecurity, according to data supplied by Feeding America, an organization that includes 200 food banks, the most important food distribution charity institution in the US.

In the world's largest economy, 20.7 percent of children are poor, a condition that affects 33.1 percent of Hispanics, said recently a report from the Bread for the World Institute, a religious movement against hunger.

A study from 2009 on food insecurity said that 26.9 percent of Hispanic homes are facing this problem, especially those in which there are children among the family members.

The Census Office and the Department of Agriculture assured that in the US national territory, at least 34.9 percent of Latins below than 18 years of age suffered hunger, compared to 23.2 percent of children in the total US population.

Because of the economic crisis and the unemployment, that affects nearly 14 million people, thirty percent of Hispanic families had to resort to food support funds to reduce hunger.

Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation demonstrates that the recent recession eliminated many of the economic benefits for children born at the end of the 90's, and expressed concern at the number of children affected by mortgage executions or evictions.

This organization stated that in 2010, 11 percent of children had at least a father or a mother without a job. Latin minors are the fastest growing population sector in the US, and at the same time, they swell its poorest sector.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, one of each four children live without secure access to nutritious food: Afro-American youth are facing the worst crisis since slavery times, and in different areas, Hispanic and Native American children are in the same situation.

Latin minors do not know if they will eat today, or if they will eat tomorrow. More than a third live in poverty and in food insecurity, said a report called "The State of America's Children, 2011."

In 2007, when the economic recession worsened, more than 800,000 people were incorporated to the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Seventy-six percent of the beneficiaries in this program are children and adolescents.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation deals with another serious problem having an impact on US children: child poverty, according to the Foundation, grew since 2000 until 2009 in a sustained manner by 18 percent, jumping from 2.5 million to 14.7 million with a noticeable incidence in the southern states and minorities.

Different reports and statistics show that the US infant population is facing such terrible conditions that should make their leaders and politicians ashamed. (Prensa Latina)