The Atlantic

How America Treats Its Own Children

Child poverty, homelessness, violence, obesity, illness: The United States is already an outlier.
Source: Loren Elliott / Reuters

How could the United States do this? How could it separate 2,000 children from their parents, perhaps never to be reunited? How could it lose track of thousands more? How could it keep children in cages, in tents, in camps? This is a country that has assimilated wave after wave of immigrants and refugees, so that children might have a better life than their parents. This is the wealthiest civilization that the world has ever known, one with a bipartisan commitment to equality of opportunity for all—especially kids. This is a country that spends more on education, health care, and defense than any other.

And yet.

This is a country that professes to care about children at their youngest and most fragile. But here, for every 100,000 live births, 28 or shortly thereafter, compared with 11 in Canada. This ratio has more than doubled since 1990, despite the medical advances made in those decades, where it has gone down in other high-income countries. Black women are three times as likely to die giving birth or shortly after birth as white women. Black women in the United States die at roughly the same rate as women in Mongolia.

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