“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children…. Our actions and policies and the institutions we create should be eloquent with care, respect, and love.” —Nelson Mandela
As election time approaches we will hear that oft-spoken cliché mouthed by political figures that “our children are our most precious resource.” Yet the most alarming fact in this regard is that the past four years of the incumbent administration has put the health, safety, and indeed, the very lives of this “most precious resource” at great risk.
In an article in the Winter 2020 issue of Catalyst, the publication of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Pamela Worth outlines the policies of the Trump administration that has especially endangered children. Reading it should fill most parents and anyone who cares about children with anger.
Alarmed and Outraged
The author cites a report to the Union of Concerned Scientists by Genna Reed, Endangering Generations: How the Trump Administration’s Assault on Children Is Harming Children’s Health. In issuing her report, Reed cannot help but express her wrath. “As an analyst at UCS, I’m alarmed,” she declares. “As a parent, I’m outraged.”
“It was overwhelming to be confronted by the length of our list (of harmful actions by the Trump administration), how vulnerable children are, and the breadth of harm being done,” the report concludes.
Among the alarming examples the report cites are the following:
–Reducing the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act by reducing the staff of the agencies charged with enforcing those laws and placing people in charge who have spent years opposing them. Laxness in the enforcement of those laws has endangered many people, but especially “children’s growing brains and bodies more than those of non-elderly adults,” the report notes.
EPA Staff Warnings Ignored
–The administration’s overruling of the Environmental Protection Agency’s own staff scientists warning and allowing the use of the agricultural pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which was derived from nerve agents developed for chemical
warfare. Even a small amount of exposure to this pesticide, according to overwhelming evidence, can inhibit brain development in children.
–The EPA, contrary to the advice of its scientists, failed to ban imports of asbestos and has neglected to enforce the ban on use of asbestos insulation in schools and other buildings. Asbestos has been clearly established as a cause of lung cancer. Children are particularly susceptible since they are closer to floors where asbestos fibers collect.
No Recall on a Defective Children’s Product
–Dismantling an oversight team at the Consumer Product Safety Commission that “helped find potentially dangerous defects in children’s products… like toys and strollers.” In one case, a defective popular jogging stroller manufactured by Britax caused 200 injuries from broken bones in adults to
shattered teeth in children over a six year period. The company refused to recall the stroller and the CPSC brought
a lawsuit. When the Trump administration came into office, a new head of CPSC was appointed and the lawsuit was settled without requiring the company to recall the product.
–The widely publicized policy of a couple of years ago of separating children from their parents among people seeking asylum at the southern border. The trauma from this, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics will affect these children’s emotional, psychological,, and even physical development for the rest of their lives. “Regardless of one’s views on immigration,” the report rightfully states, “this policy is unjust and inhumane.”
Cutting Food from Hungry Children
The Trump administration’s sharp cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program, popularly known as food stamps. Forty-four million children are among those in poor families who have been kept from hunger and malnutrition by the SNAP program and have now lost access to this lifeline.
The decisions to reverse bans, permit the use of dangerous chemicals, and neglect to enforce safeguards “are giveaways to industry and special interests,” declares the report. “Putting special interests before children’s health has consequences and the consequences are that children will get sick.
For more information about the Union of Concerned Scientists, its work, and its publications, click here.