What Are The Best And Worst Places For Children?

Advocacy group Save the Children released its annual "End of Childhood" report on Wednesday.
Posted at 6:47 PM, May 30, 2018

It's not difficult to describe what makes a good childhood. What is difficult is figuring out where good childhoods can happen.

The advocacy group Save the Children released its second annual "End of Childhood" report on Wednesday. That report scores and ranks the best and worst countries in the world for children, as well as the best and worst states in the U.S.

That's New Jersey for the best, and Louisiana for the worst.

For the international report, Save the Children looked at the rates of eight "childhood enders" to determine countries' ranks and index scores: child mortality, malnutrition, education, child labor, child marriage, adolescent birth, conflict-driven displacement and exposure to violence.

Singapore and Slovenia were tied for first with a score of 987 out of 1000, meaning that few children in those countries were missing out on childhood. Niger ranks last with a score of 388. And while the U.S. has a high score of 945, it's ranked at No. 36. 

Save the Children reports one of the main reasons for that is child poverty in rural America. In those areas, many families live on less than a couple dollars a day, and life expectancy can be lower than that of countries like Bangladesh or Vietnam.

This is because rural communities in America are often isolated with little access to health care, food, educational resources and even the internet. These issues are not only consistent with rural communities, they're also long-lasting and persistent, going back as far as three decades with little prospect for improvement.

For perspective, studies show that children from rural areas are more than twice as likely as children from urban areas to live in places with persistently high rates of child poverty.

As a result, many experts say that rural child poverty in America is an emergency that federal, state and local governments need to respond to.

On the federal level, former President Barack Obama proposed a couple solutions for the issue in 2015. These solutions included expanding educational programs like Project Head Start and providing access to universal preschool programs, affordable child care and high-speed internet.

For the Trump administration, the proposed solutions are more business and industry-focused. Earlier this year, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue proposed improving rural access to job training programs and collaborating with the Department of Education to increase investments in rural schools.