We can best measure justice in our society by how we treat our children. Children are wholly dependent on adults for the basics of life- food, healthcare, security and education. You can’t tell a hungry five year old to simply get a job.
We can best see compassion in the actions people take to protect the basic human rights of every child, regardless of their race, nationality or religion.
So what follows are some observations from fifteen years of filming children here and around the world along with five years of advocating for children’s rights through our web portal, Media Voices for Children.
Globally, nearly 3.5 million children have HIV/AIDS. Yet only one child in four receives lifesaving medication. Half a million die each year as a result. Money is the problem. Those lives are apparently too expensive to save.
Over nine million children a year die from preventable causes, hunger, malnutrition, diseases we have known cures for.
One child in 5 in America is hungry and lives in a food insecure household. Yet the Senate just passed a Farm Bill that cut food stamps and school lunches by 21 billion dollars over the next decade.
Millions of children were brought to America by their parents and have spent their lives here in an illegal limbo, unable to go to college but often serving in our military and growing up as our neighbors. Yet Congress voted against the Dream Act which would have created a path to citizenship.
Globally, over 200 million children work like animals instead of going to school, 70 million children have never set foot in a primary school. But cash transfer programs that pay families a tiny monthly stipend for sending their children to school have proven successful at expanding school enrollments in 20 countries, sending 45 million children to school.
Our children pay 8 per cent for student loans as our banks borrow from the Federal Reserve window for less than one per cent. After a full year of inaction, Congress goes on recess and allows student loan rates to double.
Hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. pick our fruits and vegetables working without protection of federal law, exposed to deadly pesticides and unable to complete their educations. These children have a 60% school drop out rate. But all attempts to protect them through new legislation have fallen short with Congress.
Two million children are homeless in America. But affordable housing and housing vouchers are being cut. Head Start programs for poor children have been cut.
In our global financial system, a few hundred people have assets greater than a billion poor people. Basic inequality has triggered instability and demonstrations in every corner of the world. People understand justice, fairness and equity in a fundamental way when they are hungry as modern communications shows them how the other- half lives.
The Robin Hood Tax offers a way to fund sustainable programs to alleviate poverty and make a dramatic difference for millions of children. We know how to provide school lunches, we know how to deliver medicine to sick children, we know how to reduce child labor and expand education, these are not mysterious things to do.
All it will require is the political will, the money, and The Same Heart.