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Special Communication
October 24, 2022

Reimagining Children鈥檚 Rights in the US

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 3Children鈥檚 Discovery & Innovation Institute, Mattel Children鈥檚 Hospital, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 4Department of Education, School of Education and Information Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 5Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 6Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 7Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta
  • 8Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 9Department of Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles
JAMA Pediatr. 2022;176(12):1242-1247. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.3822
Abstract

ImportanceThe US faces a pivotal moment of opportunity and risk regarding issues affecting children (aged 0-17 years). Although the US remains the only United Nations member state to not have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a child rights framework is essential for child health professionals seeking to advance many issues affecting children in the US. The Reimagining Children鈥檚 Rights project (2020-2021) conducted an in-depth environmental scan of relevant literature and policy analysis using the Three Horizons design process to assess strategies that could advance the rights and well-being of children in the US. The project was overseen by a steering committee and informed by an advisory committee composed of youth leaders and experts in children鈥檚 rights, advocacy, health, law, and a range of child-specific issues (eg, youth justice, early childhood development), who provided expert input on strategic considerations for advancing children鈥檚 rights.

ObservationsSeven findings about advancing children鈥檚 rights in the US are notable, all reflecting current gaps and opportunities for using a whole-child rights framework in the US, even without formal adoption of the CRC. Actionable strategies, tactics, and tools to leverage sustainable change in the multitude of issue areas can advance the current state of children鈥檚 rights. High-potential strategies for catalyzing advancement of children鈥檚 rights include youth activism, innovations in governance and accountability, legislative action, impact litigation, place-based initiatives, education and public awareness, alignment with other children鈥檚 movements, and research. The child rights framework is unifying and adaptive to future unforeseen challenges.

Conclusions and RelevanceChildren鈥檚 rights provide a powerful, synergistic framework for child health professionals鈥攊n partnership with youth and other leaders鈥攖o increase equity and protect the rights and well-being of all children in the US.

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