By Anna Gilchrist | November 20, 2023
World Children's Day is internationally observed on November 20th, which marks the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) - an international human rights treaty for the world's children. Since 1989, it has officially been signed and ratified by all except one member nation.
That nation is the United States of America. Not only was the US one of the last countries to sign the Convention, but it is now the only country that has yet to ratify it. Why has the US been so reluctant to advocate for children's rights and ensure the welfare of its children?
According to the Congressional Research Service about the UNCRC (last updated July 27, 2015, during the Obama administration), concerns were brought up in Congress regarding parental rights, US sovereignty, and the ineffectiveness of the Convention due to known child rights abusers, like China and Sudan, also having ratified the Convention. Nearly ten years later, the US government has yet to revisit and reassess the reasoning behind its lack of acknowledging children's rights.
For World Children's Day, this year's theme is "For every child, every right" - yet we seem to be witnessing in real time that, it is not, unfortunately, a universal belief. With the "a graveyard for children" developing in Gaza that the US continues to support, gun violence being the leading killer of US children, and even the minimal effort to avoid the future devastation of climate change as one the world's largest polluters, it is apparent that the United States has a children's rights issue - specifically, the basic right to live.
For America's youth, they are being exposed to more child abuse and neglect, child marriage, and even homicide. This doesn't include the rise in child poverty, child obesity, and the reduction in public education funding for many states.
With these issues on the rise, when will the US government finally address them and make children's rights a critical part of addressing the safety and welfare of America's children?
We are currently in a state of reckoning involving the human rights of every child in America and across our global society. If the United States continues to demonstrate its apathy toward our youth, we cannot honestly be considered by the rest of the world as a leader in human rights. Children's rights are human rights, yet America continues to fail to address this fact.
It is clear: there is no better time for our government to address and promote the protection of the rights of America's children than right now at this moment. It is up to our leaders to take a stand and officially recognize the rights of our children by taking accountability and the initial step of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Anna Gilchrist is a children's author, youth rights advocate, and founder of Sandfish Publishing. She received her MFA in Childhood Studies at Swansea University and has published two children's books, both of which can be found on Amazon and her website. When she is not writing, she loves to spend her free time cooking gourmet meals, singing and dancing to 90's hits, and tending to her multiple plants in her New Jersey home.