Sources: DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Date: 9/25/93, Title: “U.N. Says U.S. Dangerous for Children,” Author: Gayle Reaves; USA TODAY, Date: 6/16/93, Title: “Report: 12M kids go hungry in USA,”
SYNOPSIS: While politicians and the media play their adult games, the United States has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for young people-and it is getting worse.
An alarming report issued in mid-September by the United Nations Children’s Fund should have been a lead item on the network evening news programs, but wasn’t. In fact, according to the Tyndall Report, which monitors the evening network news programs, the report did not even make the top ten list of news subjects on the networks during the period from September 13 to October 1, 1993.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund:
* Nine out of ten young people murdered in industrialized countries are slain in the United States.
* The U.S. homicide rate for young people ages 15 to 24 is five times greater than that of Canada, its nearest competitor.
* The U.S. poverty rate for children is more than double that of any other major industrialized nation.
* Over the past 20 years, while other industrialized nations were bringing children out of poverty, only the United States and Britain slipped backward.
An earlier report by researchers at Tufts University revealed that nearly 12 million children are going hungry in the United States now.
The plight of our children does not appear to be a function of our recent declining economy but rather one of misguided priorities. The economic problems that have affected the United States in the last decade have affected much of the rest of the world too. Other countries have used taxes and other government policies to help address the situation; this has not happened in the United States.
Arloc Sherman, a Children’s Fund research analyst, noted that children have been hurt by failing economies throughout the world. “What really distinguishes the United States from all these countries is that we started off with less generous benefits, and as we went through the 1980s other nations got more generous,” Sherman says, but “we got even less generous.”
Journalist Gayle Reaves, who reported on the findings by the Children’s Fund, noted, “Unlike every other industrialized nation, the United States has not signed or ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a set of principles adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989.”
Now that the United States is one of the most dangerous places in the world for young people to live, it would seem that the time has come for the mass media to alert the public to this growing tragedy.
SSU Censored Researcher: Mark Papadopoulos
COMMENTS: An alarming report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, released in late September 1993, should have been widely publicized in the mass media. It was a strident warning to the American people that our young people were in mortal danger for their lives. It also revealed how out of step we were with the rest of the industrialized world in the way we treat our youth. And yet, this alarming story was not put on the national agenda by the mass media.
Gayle Reaves, a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, recognized how important the issue was and her story was published on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. But that was an exception. Reaves felt it was important to tell the story since “It probably would benefit the public to understand that the rest of the world does not have the problems with societal, peacetime violence that the United States has. It is important for people to know that we are not the norm, by far.”
Ironically, a series of events in late 1993 forced the mass media to put the issue on the national agenda.
In Northern California, Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl from Petaluma, was kidnapped and later found murdered; in St. Louis, Missouri, two young girls, Angle Housman, 9, and Cassidy Senter, 10, were abducted at separate times and both found murdered; and in Southern California, the search for a serial child molester, tied to 32 attacks in the suburban San Fernando Valley, continued.
Tragically, America’s young people tried to tell the story which the mass media had ignored. The Children’s Express, a news program produced by and for young people, held a two-day conference on violence against youth in Washington, DC, in late October.
George Zitnay, president of the National Head Injury Foundation- in Washington, told a panel of Children’s Express reporters, aged from 10 to 14, that “In the nation’s capital, it is not uncommon for children to attend two or three funerals a week for friends who have been shot. This is a national epidemic.”
Even though it is a national epidemic, it took the senseless deaths of Polly Klaas, Angie Housman, and Cassidy Senter, before the news media focused national attention on this tragic problem.