Any issue comes into focus when you ask what it will mean for children. Food insecurity, pesticide exposure, evictions, biases around gender identity, illnesses, racial inequity–all have particular impact on children, who have the fewest resources to cope. Even voting rights, which can only be exercised by those over 18, affect children, as those parents who brought their children to Saturday’s March on DC clearly knew. Those of you in California who must vote soon on the recall of Governor Newsom might want to read the New York Times voter guide through the lens of the consequences for children to see what the implications of replacing the governor could be. And remember our database of the many pieces of voting rights legislation that are going to become extremely important if the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which the House passed last week, stalls in the Senate.
1. 1 in 7 children—10.7 million—go hungry. New funding may help.
Children in American have become more food-insecure since the pandemic. With schools closed, poor children did not get the breakfasts and lunches that they depended on, and food banks reported distributing 43 per cent more food, according to the AP. The Children’s Defense Fund reported in May that one of seven children lives in a food-insecure household, meaning that members of the household do not get enough to eat. The rate is double that for Black and Latino children. (See the chart on food insecurity state by state from FeedingAmerica.org, a network of food banks.)
Beginning in October, recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, colloquially known as “food stamps”) will be receiving increased benefits based on a new assessment of basic nutritional needs and their costs. For example, previous food cost estimates for the program assumed recipients would be using cheaper dried beans, rather than canned, when in reality most families receiving food stamps don’t have the time to prepare dried beans. The new estimates assume the cost of beans to be the cost of canned beans. While all recipients will see some increase in benefits, these will vary by state. The New York Times reported that the average benefit of $121 a month will increase to $157—just shy of a 30% increase. The Times also includes United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics that show most families have used up all food stamps by midway through the month—and 43% of food stamp benefits cover children, who are unlikely to be able to add to the family income. S-HP/RLS
Thank the USDA for this increase that more accurately acknowledges the needs of American families: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence SW, Washington DC 20250, (202) 720-2791. And donate to your local food bank.
2. The Supreme Court allows massive evictions. Children’s health will suffer.
Hundreds of thousands of people could be evicted–in a pandemic–as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Biden administration’s ban on evictions, the New York Times reports. While funds have been earmarked to keep people in their homes, only 11% have reached renters, due to various bureaucratic snafus, NPR reports. As Child Trends, a research institute on children’s issues points out, unstable housing is detrimental to children’s well-being. Housing Matters, a branch of the Urban Institute, points out that when families are late on rent, endure multiple moves, or become homeless, the health of children suffers. Their data precede the pandemic, so the consequences of families doubling up with other family members or living in shelters for the spread of COVID have not been calculated. The Court believes that Congress needs to pass an eviction moratorium for it to be legitimate. RLS
You can urge your members of Congress to address the issues of evictions immediately. Find your representative here and your senators here.
3. Pressley bill would put mental health staff, not police in schools
Having police in public schools does not make children safer, research shows. Instead, it tends to criminalize children of color and traumatize children who have already had negative contact with police, according to the Healthy Schools Campaign.
Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has introduced the Counselling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (H.R.4011), which would prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for law enforcement officers in public schools. Instead, schools would have access to a grant program to help replace law enforcement with personnel and services that are trauma-informed and designed to support mental health. When we talk about defunding police (this writer’s language, not the language of the legislation), we are talking about programs like these that reduce the burden on law enforcement and that put in place professionals in services like mental health. This legislation is currently with two House committees: Education and Labor and Judiciary. S-HP
If you want to get involved in this issue, you can thank Representative Pressley for introducing this legislation, urge swift, positive action by the committees currently considering it, check whether your Representative is a cosponsor and thank/nudge as appropriate [note: Representative Panetta is not a cosponsor]: Addresses are here.
4. Drone strike kills children
Seven children were among the civilians killed by a U.S. drone strike against an Islamic State car bomb; along with their family, they were getting out of a nearby car, the New York Times reported. At least 90 civilians–along with 13 U.S. military personnel–were killed by the Islamic State attack on the Kabul airport. Meanwhile, the Afghan health care system is at risk, as the closure of banks means that hospitals cannot pay workers or buy supplies, as woman health workers stay home, and as foreign donors (including the World Bank and European Union) stop providing funds in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Al Jazeera reports. The WHO and Doctors Without Borders have had difficulty flying medical supplies into the region. RLS
5. US arms sales to Saudi Arabia harm children, could be blocked
Between 2015 and 2020, the U.S. sold $10.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, most of which it used in the catastrophic war again Yemen. As a consequence of that war, half of the children under 5 in Yemen are malnourished, and 400,000 could die if they do not receive immediate treatment, according to Forbes.
In April, the House passed the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act (H.R.1392), which blocks arms sales to Saudi Arabia and requires actions in response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a Saudi journalist and official U.S. resident. Since leaving the house, this legislation has been with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has not yet acted upon it. S-HP
If you think there should be action on this issue, remind the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the importance of protecting journalistic freedom globally, urge swift, positive action on H.R.1392 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and tell your Senator you want to see their support for H.R.1392 when the legislation reaches the Senate Floor. Addresses are here.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT
6. Most important back-to-school supplies: Masks
As kids too young to be vaccinated head back to in-person school, the possibility that COVID will spreading among them is of grave concern. As the Toronto Star points out, whether kids are likely to transmit COVID depends in part on the vaccination rates in the community around them. (The Star offers a school-by-school analysis of vaccination rates in each Toronto community, while the Local offers a list of high-risk schools.)
In the US, ten states require masks in schools while eight–Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Utah–forbid districts from requiring them, according to the Pew Trusts. In July, the CDC recommended that in view of the Delta variant and the increased numbers of COVID cases that are filling up hospitals, masks should be required in schools.
With 32 states leaving decisions about requiring masks up to individual districts, Mom’s Rising recommends that parents write their superintendents and their school boards, download a vaccine fact sheet to share with other parents, and urge that children old enough be vaccinated.
You can find the petition, sample letter and other recommendations for action at the Mom’s Rising website.
7. Children of color more likely to die from flu
Children of color are more likely to hospitalized and are three to four times more likely to die from the flu, according to Consumer Reports, citing a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The youngest children are the most vulnerable. The researchers, who were affiliated with the CDC and 18 other academic institutions and health departments, looked at 113,352 flu hospitalizations; they note that the most important strategies to prevent flu deaths in children are immunizations and anti-viral treatment. The flu kills 12, 000 to 61 ,000 people (both children and adults) each year. RLS
8. Use of pesticide that damages children’s brains now must be drastically reduced
Beginning in February, agricultural use of chlorpyrifos in the U.S. will be cut by over 90%. Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide, is known to cause neurological damage in children and is correlated with low birth weight, lowered IQs, and developmental problems in children, according to the New York Times. During Trump’s administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose not to ban chlorpyrifos, despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers it presented. In response, a suit was filed challenging that decision. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that evidence of chlorpyrifos’ dangers is so overwhelming that unless the administration can demonstrate new, convincing evidence of its harmlessness, most agricultural uses of the chemical must be ended. The Biden EPA chose not to challenge this decision. Because the change is the result of a court ruling, there will be no mandatory public comment period, which could have allowed continued use of chlorpyrifos while a proposed ban worked its way through the federal rule-making process. S-HP
It is worth thanking the current EPA for refusing to support the Trump EPA’s misleading claims about chlorpyrifos and for agreeing to ban most uses of the chemical: Michael S. Regan, Director, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania NW, 20460, (202) 564-4700.
Heather Cox Richardson has some excellent reflections on the March on Washington and voting rights.
The International Rescue Committee is working to assist refugees caught in the violence in Afghanistan.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
No More Deaths/No Más Muertes‘ three-part report, Left to Die, details how asylum-seekers in the desert are abandoned by the Border Patrol. Though 911 calls are routed to them, they did not respond in 63% of cases. Lee Sandusky’s piece of literary journalism, “Scenes from an Emergency Clinic in the Sonoran Desert,” eloquently describes the work No More Deaths/No Más Muertes does.
The National Lawyers Guild has a series of webinars on issues from the global repression of voting, the local suppression of voting and the detention of immigrants.
A trans hotline with both Canadian and US numbers–and with operators who speak Spanish–provides services by and for trans people. You don’t need to be in crisis to call, and if you are a friend or a family member of a trans person, you can also call to find out how to support them. If you would like to know more about the organization, see their staff bios here.
The Americans of Conscience checklist has new actions every other week that will enable you to make your voice heard quickly and clearly. In addition, they have a good news section that will help you keep going.
Among the organizations that supports kids and their families at the border is RAICES, which provides legal support. The need for their services has never been greater. You can support them here.
Al Otro Lado provides legal and humanitarian services to people in both the US and Tijuana. You can find out more about their work here.
The Minority Humanitarian Foundation supports asylum-seekers who have been released by ICE with no means of transportation or ways to contact sponsors. You can donate frequent-flyer miles to make their efforts possible.
The group Angry Tias and Abuelas provides legal advice and services to asylum-seekers at the border. You can follow their work on Facebook and see the list of volunteer opportunities they have posted.