The Most Important Problem Facing Children in the US Today

May 17, 2013

In the early 1950s, polio crippled tens of thousands of people in the United States each year, shut down public facilities, and struck fear among parents everywhere.  But thanks to a massive public health effort that reached into every community, by 1979 polio had been eliminated from the U.S.

What if we tackled child poverty with the same determination and commitment that we put into eliminating polio? At a time when one in five children lives in poverty, income inequality is growing, and the severe negative long-term consequences of childhood poverty are known, the analogy is not farfetched.

This week, the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) Task Force on Childhood Poverty declared that childhood poverty is "the most important problem facing children in the US today" and issued a Strategic Road Map for addressing it as a public health issue.  The APA Task Force commits to raising the voice of pediatricians to build public support for policies that will both reduce childhood poverty and address the negative effects of poverty on children's physical and mental health and development.  This builds on similar statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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