Child Poverty Research Data & Publications
Throughout his long, storied career as a lawyer, law professor, and legal scholar until his death last October at age 80, Derrick Bell was well known for his willingness to stand up and speak out about the injustices he saw around him even when it cost him his own positions. His activism within and outside the "ivory tower" of academia changed the odds for the generations that followed in his footsteps and learned from his example. I was very pleased to have him as one of my superb supervising attorneys my first year out of law school when I joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund staff.
"There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. Not too many years ago, Dr. Kirtley Mather, a Harvard geologist, wrote a book entitled Enough and to Spare. He set forth the basic theme that famine is wholly unnecessary in the modern world. Today, therefore, the question on the agenda must read: Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life"
End-of-year news stories about holiday spending happily reported on the unexpectedly high totals many Americans spent-or put on credit-this year. But for millions of families there was another story: how to provide enough food and shelter and keep alive the spirit, wonder, and joy of the season for their children when resources are scarce?
Would you recognize a poor child when you saw one? Nine-year-old Carolyn Latimore and her sister Aalijah, eight, are beautiful little girls with big smiles on their faces. But Carolyn, Aalijah, and their older brother, Robert, 17, of Middletown, Ohio, fell into poverty when their parents divorced. They've lived in four places in the past four years including a chaotic housing project where their bikes and toys were stolen.
Picture an iceberg. Many children know the danger from the "Titanic Song"? they learn in school or summer camp. One verse goes like this: "It was off the coast of England not very far from shore, when the rich refused to associate with the poor. So they sent them down below, where they were the first to go. It was sad when that great ship went down. Oh it was sad, so sad. It was sad, too bad. It was sad when the great ship went down . . . husbands and wives, little children lost their lives -- it was sad when the great ship went down. "
Repatriation. It's a word many schoolchildren probably haven't yet learned to define or even seen very often outside of spelling bees. But when it comes to corporate taxes, repatriation is the cornerstone of an idea that has the potential to severely hurt millions of children and parents and widen the already historic and unconscionable gap between the rich and the poor.
This fact sheet highlights the new poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2010. The number of children in poverty increased by 950,000 between 2009 and 2010, rising from 15.5 million to 16.4 million – or over one in five children in America.
I am often asked, what's wrong with our children? Children having children. Children killing themselves or others. Children dropping out of school and roaming streets alone or in gangs. Children addicted to tobacco and alcohol, drinking and drugging themselves to escape reality.
The Children's Defense Fund has launched a new series of stories on our web site featuring children and their parents who have fallen on very hard times. They are the real faces and fears behind our disgraceful national child poverty statistics – 16.4 million poor children living in the richest nation on earth.
Young families with children, along with racial minorities and youth, have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn widening already existing inequalities. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 has caused nine million more Americans to fall in to poverty in the past three years, 2.6 million Americans this year alone, raising the total number of Americans in poverty to a new record high of 46.2 million people.