Child Watch® Columns

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  • 07/24/15

    Child Watch® Column: “Ten Rules to Help Black Boys Survive”

    Democracy cannot breathe, and will die, if those enjoined to protect and uphold the law snuff it out unjustly and without consequence. Justice cannot breathe when Black men and boys and women and girls are routinely profiled, abused, arrested, and killed with impunity by police officers. We must stop this. We must protect the lives of our young people—all of them.
  • 07/17/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    How to Keep Our Black Boys Alive: Channeling the Rage

    Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise at The Ohio State University and a Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology. He also has faculty appointments in the Ohio State John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Department of African American and African Studies, and Education Policy, Engineering Education, and Sexuality Studies programs. But none of these credentials mattered one bit when Dr. Strayhorn was pulled over by a White police officer a week before he spoke at the June Children’s Defense Fund training for college-age students preparing to teach at CDF Freedom Schools® sites across the country this summer. He shared this story with the 2,000 young mostly non-White leaders because it was an integral part of his message for the young teachers in training: “How to Keep Our Black Boys Alive.”
  • 07/10/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Redlined for Failure and the Prison Pipeline

    Ndume Olatushani is an artist, organizer, and a passionate advocate for justice who works with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Nashville organizing team. He helps us fight to keep children and people of color, especially Black boys, out of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline™ and mass incarceration system which will trap 1 in 3 Black boys born in 2001 sometime during their lifetime.
  • 07/02/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    America — What Do We After Do Charleston?

    I am a native South Carolinian. Charleston is my maternal ancestral home. My great grandmother was born during slavery. My great grandfather I have been told was a plantation overseer. Never have I been more proud and more ashamed of my dueling ancestral heritages than in the aftermath of the terroristic murders of nine Black Christians engaged in Bible study at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a young White man infected by what Dr. King called, after President Kennedy’s assassination, “a morally inclement climate.”
  • 06/19/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Growing Seeds for a Multicultural, Multiracial Teaching Force for our Rainbow Children

    This is the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program’s twentieth anniversary. Since the program began more than 135,000 children across the country have had an enriching CDF Freedom Schools summer or after-school experience and more than 15,000 college students and recent graduates have been trained to teach the integrated reading curriculum whose books reflect the lives of the K-12 children and youths, and give them hope.
  • 06/05/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Charity Is Not a Substitute for Justice

    In his speech the night before his murder Dr King repeated the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who stopped and helped the desperate traveler who had been beaten, robbed, and left half dead as he journeyed along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
  • 06/05/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    End All Youth Detention and Torture at Riker's Island Now

    In his speech the night before his murder Dr King repeated the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who stopped and helped the desperate traveler who had been beaten, robbed, and left half dead as he journeyed along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
  • 05/29/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Protecting Fifty Years of Child Health Progress

    The 2016 Budget Resolution passed by both the House and the Senate paves the way to radically restructure Medicaid, making deep cuts that will reverse the progress made in reducing the rate of uninsured children, pushing tens of millions of Americans – including millions of children – into the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.
  • 05/22/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Overmedicating Children in Foster Care

    On any given day nearly one in four children in foster care is taking at least one psychotropic medication—more than four times the rate for all children. Nearly half of children living in residential treatment centers or group homes take psychotropic medications. Children in foster care are more likely to be prescribed multiple psychotropic medications at very high doses, although research shows higher doses can result in serious side effects.
  • 05/15/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Healing a Child's Broken Heart

    It’s always very challenging for a parent when their child has a serious health condition. It’s even more challenging when their child has a serious condition but has no health insurance to cover the needed care and emergencies. Both were true for one Texas mother whose 12-year-old daughter Evelyn was diagnosed with a heart defect.
  • 05/08/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Criminalizing Poverty

    The recent Department of Justice report on police and court practices in Ferguson, Missouri put a much needed spotlight on how a predatory system of enforcement of minor misdemeanors and compounding fines can trap low-income people in a never-ending cycle of debt, poverty, and jail. In Ferguson this included outrageous fines for minor infractions like failing to show proof of insurance and letting grass and weeds in a yard get too high. In one case a woman who parked her car illegally in 2007 and couldn’t pay the initial $151 fee has since been arrested twice, spent six days in jail, paid $550 to a city court, and as of 2014 still owed the city $541 in fines, all as a result of the unpaid parking ticket. The Department of Justice found each year Ferguson set targets for the police and courts to generate more and more money from municipal fines. And Ferguson isn’t alone. The criminalization of poverty is a growing trend in states and localities across the country.
  • 05/01/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    All in the Family

    The odds were stacked against Britiny Lee before she was born. Her mother was addicted to drugs, like Britiny’s grandfather and many others in their poverty-stricken Cleveland neighborhood. Britiny’s mother used drugs throughout her pregnancy and went to prison for a year just after Britiny’s birth. As a poor, Black “crack baby” with an addicted, incarcerated mother and an absent father, Britiny started life in danger. Being born into an unstable poor family or to a single, teen, incarcerated, or absent parent are all known risk factors in America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis.
  • 04/24/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    Stuck Outside the Poor Door

    More than 88,000 people have applied to enter the “poor door” at a new luxury condominium tower on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Only one in 1,600 will win the lottery to live there. Some months ago a New York developer made headlines with the plans for this building, which takes advantage of zoning rules encouraging affordable housing by including some low-priced rental units along with the luxury condos for sale. A separate entrance for the people living in the low-income apartments continues with segregated living inside. Low-income tenants won’t be allowed to use the pool, gym, private theater, or any of the other amenities reserved for the wealthy owners. Critics immediately pounced on this design as a modern-day form of Jim Crow.
  • 04/17/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    "Thank God for Peanut Butter and Jelly—PB and J—Day"

    Kaylyn Sigman is a high school senior with big plans. A star soccer player from a poor rural Appalachian Ohio community who loves calculus and creative writing, she’s college bound this fall and dreams of becoming a middle school special education teacher. Kaylyn’s overcome a lot to arrive where she is today.
  • 04/10/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    "Big Winners and Big Losers in the House and Senate Republican Budgets"

    The House and Senate Republican budgets add $38 billion more in defense spending above the Pentagon’s request in fiscal year 2016. Instead of being up front and including it in the regular defense department budget, it was added to a catch-all war fund not subject to budget caps.
  • 04/03/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    "Let's Give Child Hunger a Summer Vacation"

    Many children and families eagerly look forward to the end of the school year and the carefree days of summer, playing outside in the warm sun, splashing and swimming in pools and at beaches, and gathering with family and friends for backyard barbeques. But for more than 17 million children the end of school can be the end of certainty about where and when their next meal will come. While 21.7 million children received free or reduced price lunches during the 2013-2014 school year, only 2.6 million children-12.2 percent-participated in the Summer Food Service Program. This huge participation gap suggests that nearly 9 out of 10 of the children who benefit from free or reduced price lunches during the school year may not be receiving the nourishment necessary for proper physical, cognitive, and social development during the long summer months. Hunger has no vacation.
  • 03/27/15

    Child Watch® Column:
    "Time for Justice for Children in New York"
    By Marian Wright Edelman and Melanie Hartzog

    Under New York’s juvenile justice system a child as young as seven can be arrested for a crime, and a 16-year-old is automatically charged as an adult.
  • 03/20/15

    Child Watch® Column: "Don't Leave Children Short"

    Congress is about to strike a deal that takes care of seniors and doctors but leaves low income and “at risk” children short. Congress’ annual struggle to avoid cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates so physicians will continue to give seniors the care they need is widely considered must-pass bipartisan legislation
  • 03/13/15

    Child Watch® Column: "Staying on the March—Right Now"

    Fifty years ago I traveled from Mississippi to Selma, Alabama on March 21st, 1965 to join Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of fellow citizens marching the 54 miles to the steps of the state’s capitol in Montgomery. Millions of Americans now know about this march thanks to the movie Selma and the recent 50th anniversary celebration. Selma was the site of a courageous voting rights campaign by Black citizens which was met by brutal Southern Jim Crow law enforcement and citizen violence. The nation was shocked two weeks earlier when John Lewis and Reverend Hosea Williams set out on a nonviolent march with a group of 600 people toward Montgomery to demand their right to vote and were brutally attacked by lawless state and local law enforcement officials at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The televised images of “Bloody Sunday” and the savage beatings of the marchers—including Congressman Lewis whose skull was fractured—were a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement and in America’s struggle to become America. It provoked the thousands of us (ultimately about 25,000) who came together later to finish the march, safer thanks to Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.’s order that we had a right to peaceful protest and with National Guard protection. And we were buoyed by President Johnson’s March 15th, 1965 address calling on Congress to pass what became the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • 03/06/15

    Child Watch® Column: "Who Are We? What Do We Americans Truly Value?"

    What do we stand for as a nation and who do we wish to be? In a 1968 speech at the University of Kansas, Senator Robert Kennedy correctly worried too many used our vast wealth to measure greatness that said nothing about the goals and values that should matter most in our nation. Our Gross National Product—now almost 19 times larger—includes many things for us not to be proud of. How well is America doing today on the things that should matter most—the well-being of our children and families and the quality of justice and life in our communities and nation?
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