Michigan given failing grade for child protections by Human Rights Watch

The advocacy organization Human Rights Watch has given Michigan an ‘F’ when it comes to protecting children, according to its latest scorecard released Tuesday. 

In assessing the laws that protect young people, like restrictions on corporal punishment, child marriage, and charging children as adults, Michigan received a failing grade - along with 20 other states in the U.S.

The scorecard was based on standards established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child which was created in 1989.

But according to the organization, the vast majority of states in the U.S. do not adequately protect its children. Only four states - Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and New Jersey received C grades. No state received an A or B grade.

"For people who believe the US is treating its children well, this assessment is a rude awakening," said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "When it comes to child marriage, hazardous child labor, extreme prison sentences, and violent treatment of children, the vast majority of US states have abysmal laws."

While Michigan received the worst grade, Human Rights Watch said the states "with the worst grades" were Mississippi, Wyoming, Georgia, and Washington. The scorecard cites several subjects around protections for youths from labor laws to those governing whether children can be prosecuted as adults. 

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Child marriage remains legal in Michigan where there is no minimum age restricting when someone can be married. Only seven states have banned the practice with no exception. According to an Unchained At Last report, which tracks rates of child marriage, 5,259 children were married in Michigan between 2000-2018.