Another Presidential Debate Fails to Bring Up Kids’ Issues

December 13, 2011

Another lively presidential debate took place in Iowa this weekend, but once again child and youth issues garnered little mention. Aside from talk of Newt Gringrich’s controversial stance on child labor laws and some sympathy for poor families by Rick Santorum, the candidates largely failed to give substantive discussion to the health and well-being of America’s children.

It’s all too typical for candidates of both parties to avoid serious discussion of education, child health and safety issues. A recent report from Voices examined transcripts of the first 10 debates and found that only 2 percent of discussion involved kids’ issues. Policy statements from all the candidates, including President Obama, likewise tend to lack serious discussion of how to help children most in need.

Children are one-quarter of the population, 100 percent of the future and less than 2 percent of the political discussion. We must change that.

The fact is, children in America today are in crisis. More than one in five American children lives in poverty. Nearly one in four is at risk of hunger and one in three is overweight or obese. Surely the quality of life of America’s young people merits more attention.

Voices for America’s Children, together with partners like SparkAction, wants to demand from our media and our political establishment better awareness of children’s issues. We intend to launch a campaign shining a spotlight on the needs of children and families in America and give them the discussion they deserve. Stay tuned.

Bill Bentley is president and CEO of Voices for America’s Children, a nationwide advocacy network that speaks out for children on Capitol Hill, in State Legislatures, and in City Halls.

Bill Bentley