We have stood up in outrage as our country replays past atrocities, separating “other people’s” children from their families in the name of America First. The United States is losing whatever moral authority it claimed.
But could we ever claim moral authority on the treatment of youth?
- We lock up more youth than other developed nations. Most of these youth are locked up for nonviolent offenses.
- We prosecute more kids in adult court than any other developed nation. Florida, which gives sole, unreviewable discretion to state attorneys, leads in this practice. Florida sent more than a thousand kids to adult court last year.
- We continue to allow youth to be held in solitary confinement in adult prisons and jails, despite the fact that it is widely recognized as child abuse and torture.
We’ve yet to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which forbids or vastly limits all of these practices.
It is time to recognize that kids are not pawns to be used in political negotiations; they are not simply property of their parents; they are not mini-adults. They are people. Wonderful, growing people, full of hope and opportunity, who will lead us into the future.
How we treat them, how we address – or ignore – or exacerbate – their unmet needs will determine what that future looks like.
Want to do something? Visit our Keep Kids Learning Institute.