child rights in the u.s. a critical analysis of legislative gaps and progress
A society’s devotion to its youngest and most vulnerable members can be determined in large part by how well children’s rights are protected. But as a recent report by Human Rights Watch made clear, there are worrying loopholes and shortcomings in protecting children’s rights in the United States.
Due to the over a quarter million child marriages that have occurred in the last twenty years, child marriage is still a serious problem in the United States. Surprisingly, child marriage remained allowed in 41 states after becoming illegal in all 50 states as of 2018. Although there has been recent progress with some states passing laws to restrict or outright prohibit child marriage, a sizable number of states still allow this detrimental practice, posing serious hazards to the future and well-being of these young people.
The practice of corporal punishment on children is another troubling aspect of children’s rights in the United States. Surprisingly, children are disciplined physically in some educational settings in all states save three. A comprehensive national law forbidding this practice is urgently needed to guarantee the security and mental health of children inside the educational system, despite considerable progress having been made with the banning of physical punishment in some school settings like Colorado and Maryland.
Children are frequently exposed to dangerous working circumstances, especially in the agriculture sector, making child labor a persistent problem. It is alarming to note that during the past two years, legislation to weaken protections for children working has been proposed in at least 14 states. This reversal endangers the security and opportunities of young people who should be shielded from hazardous workplaces, necessitating quick action to strengthen child labor regulations and ensure their strict implementation.
Numerous juveniles receive life without parole sentences in prison due to the draconian sentencing practices used frequently in the U.S. justice system. Surprisingly, 22 states still permit life without parole-penalty for juveniles, and juveniles can be prosecuted as adults in all 50 states. To bring the US in line with international norms and provide kids a chance at recovery and reintegration into society, urgent measures are required.
Although some states have made some gains and positive legal changes, the United States still falls far short of fully protecting its children. To close the grave gaps in the protection of children’s rights, immediate and thorough action is required on both the state and federal levels. Implementing significant reforms that put the welfare and future of the country’s children first, ensuring they are protected from harmful practices and given the rights and safeguards they deserve, will require cooperation across party divisions.