The Poverty of Children Demands Attention

In his column at the Hill, Juan Williams weighs in on the alarming poverty rate among America's children. He says it's sad that it's not part of the political discourse.

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Poverty is growing among today's children. (Getty Images)

In his column at the Hill, Juan Williams says that when the Census Bureau factored in health care and other child-rearing costs, it calculated that more than half of all children in America live near poverty. Yet even in the face of those stunning statistics, the issue is still not part of the political discourse for presidential candidates or Congress.

The bottom of the poverty barrel is home to 43.6 percent of the nation’s children, whom the census reports are the most likely of any age group in  America to live in the “poor or low-income” category. When the Census Bureau factored in healthcare and other child-rearing costs, it calculated that 56.7 percent of all U.S. children live near poverty.

To repeat, by any measure, about half of America’s children live in poverty or painfully close to poverty. This is a radical fact that speaks to growing economic inequality. It amounts to a scary warning of possible social unrest.

The official poverty level for all Americans is 15 percent; 22 percent for children, the highest since 1993. But according to an analysis by  The Associated Press, when people living near the poverty line -- defined as people earning less than $22,278 annually for an individual and $44,628 for a family of four -- are included, 48 percent of Americans currently live in or near poverty.

The Census Bureau reports that 29 percent of white children are considered in or near poverty, along with 64 percent of black children and 65 percent of Hispanic children. There is a link between poverty and a rising number of out-of-wedlock babies born every year, with 24 percent, 38 percent and 42 percent of white, black and Hispanic woman-headed families, respectively, living in poverty. These harsh facts are an ugly consequence of American family breakdown and political inertia in a time of congressional fights for political advantage over budgets and tax breaks. 

Read Juan Williams' entire column at the Hill.

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