Why and How We Help Children
From the time they are born, children face a range of challenges that affect their development and their ability to thrive. Some children are more vulnerable than others because they face abuse and exploitation or poor social and environmental determinants of health.
No child should be unhoused or live in a toxic environment, be denied sanctuary from oppression, or suffer because they are kept from meeting their basic needs.
We advocate for more ambitious international frameworks and national policies that acknowledge the right of a child to a healthy and safe home, community, and environment.
Children are trafficked all over the world, including in the US. They are trafficked for labor, for war, and for sex. Child labor is one of the most common forms of trafficking. The food and fiber industries, in particular, are some of the worse offenders.
In some parts of the US, children as young as 12 may work in agriculture, where they are exposed to toxins and other health hazards.
The clothing and textile industry also exploits children at every stage of production, including picking cotton and other fibers, spinning yarn, sewing, and tanning leather.
To raise awareness about the problem of child labor, we provide education, conduct relevant research, and partner with other organizations to foster changes in consumer practices, including the boycotting of goods produced through child labor.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international agreement that describes the basic rights of children. It is the most comprehensive framework for helping governments ensure that children are protected from exploitation and abuse and that children are provided with what they need to live, grow, and thrive.
We advocate for US ratification of the CRC, which would dramatically curb child trafficking including child labor. Since Somalia’s ratification of the Convention in 2015, the US remains the only member of the United Nations that has not yet ratified the CRC.
US ratification of the CRC would be a significant step toward continuing to improve the lives of children around the world, including by
- ensuring that children are not exploited by industries seeking cheap and compliant laborers;
- ensuring access to adequate healthcare, including mental health services;
- ensuring children are able to attend school;
- ensuring adequate access to healthful food and clean water;
- improving the status of children without permanent shelter;
- ending the forced marriage and sex trafficking of children; and
- ending the prosecution and incarceration of children as adults, including incarceration practices such as solitary confinement.
Other Avenues Toward Child Protection
In lieu of the US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Phoenix Zones Initiative works with other organizations to identify ways to uphold the spirit of the CRC in national policies and practices.
One of the avenues we are pursuing is the establishment of a US Commissioner of Children and Families. Such a position would elevate child protection issues into the realm of other issues with federal cabinet-level positions. Using other national and state offices as a model, the position would
- serve as an advocate for various children’s interests in cabinet-level discussions;
- advocate for federal services that foster child and family wellness;
- coordinate between federal agencies to better serve the interests of children; and
- launch education and public interest campaigns on children’s issues.
We are also working with other experts and organizations to identify key policies that could better advance the rights, welfare, and interests of children.
Questions about our work on behalf of children? Please reach out.
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