A newly released scorecard by the international organization Human Rights Watch has once again deemed that every U.S. state is failing to protect children’s rights — Michigan included.
Though several other states made progress from last year’s report card, Michigan earned an ‘F’ grade again for leaving kids vulnerable to child marriage, hazardous farm work, corporal punishment and life imprisonment.
Out of 12 state laws scrutinized, Michigan lived up to international child protection standards on four of them. “We did the updated scorecard because of the progress,” said Callie King-Guffey, digital communications and advocacy manager with the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth and the researcher behind the Human Rights Watch scorecard. “And as we were putting together materials for that update, (I was) really reminded of how bad performance is.”
Michigan is almost certain to receive a higher grade on any future scorecard, but how much it rises depends on legislative action in play this session.
Michigan is only 40% compliant — but poised for a big leap
The U.S. is the only member of the United Nations that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the world’s most comprehensive human rights treaty on children’s rights, despite our country taking a leading role in shaping it.
Without ratifying the treaty, issues including child labor and juvenile justice are often the responsibility of individual states.
No state received an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade on the Human Rights Watch scorecard, which assessed compliance with children’s rights principles set forth in the convention. Seven states earned a C, while more than half of states — 27 — got a ‘D,’ and Michigan joined 15 other states receiving an “F.”
In the year since the first report card was released, 11 states improved their grades or rankings by limiting or banning child marriage, raising the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction, banning juvenile life without parole or banning corporal punishment in private schools.
New Jersey and Minnesota earned the highest raw scores for compliance with the international norms of child protection. Michigan was seventh from the bottom, determined to be 40% compliant.
But changes could come soon.