Demonstrators are seen on Constitution Avenue while marching to Freedom Plaza from Capitol Hill to honor George Floyd and all victims of racial injustice on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Engaging With Police Reform to Save Black Lives

UNICEF USA affirms commitment to racial justice including police reform & reimagining public safety in a just & equitable way.

UNICEF USA's mission is to support UNICEF's work to promote the rights and well-being of children around the world. Our efforts, including advocacy, focus on supporting UNICEF's programs that reach the most vulnerable chlldren and families.

As an organization and as individuals who care about children, we cannot ignore serious threats to vulnerable children in our own country.

There is no question that disproportionate use of force by the police against Black people and other people of color, and the systemic racism and discrimination that underlie that violence, pose a severe risk to children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children exposed to discrimination can develop stress that affects their physical, mental and behavioral health throughout their lives. Losing family members to police violence only intensifies that stress and its impacts.

Systemic racism and discrimination expose children to lifelong toxic stress

Our UNICEF supporters across the country — especially our college and high school clubs — urged us to take a stand for those children. One thing we can do is to support the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120 / S. 3912).

The Justice in Policing Act is a comprehensive and compelling effort to reform policing. It includes proposals to:

  • address racial and religious profiling
  • ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants
  • limit the use of military equipment on American streets and require body cameras
  • make it easier to investigate and prosecute police misconduct
  • make lynching a federal crime

This legislation is a first step toward changing the culture of law enforcement and to reimagining public safety in an equitable and just way.

UNICEF USA knows that there are other, less transformative proposals to reform police use of force policies. With national attention and concern about police use of force, we believe now is the time to focus on significant, sweeping reforms, not piecemeal approaches. That is why UNICEF USA backs the Justice in Policing Act. The House of Representatives has already passed this bill; we need the Senate to act.

UNICEF USA strongly affirms our commitment to racial justice 

Finally, we affirm that Black lives matter. Some may hesitate to use the term "Black lives matter" because they disagree with policy positions associated with the term. For us, those three words are bigger than any one organization or policy position. "Black lives matter" is a recognition that in too many situations, consciously or subconsciously, Black lives are undervalued. UNICEF USA's stance strongly affirms our commitment to racial justice, the end to practices and biases that marginalize people of color, and our dedication to working for an equitable, just world, respectful of children's rights.

Top photo: Demonstrators on Constitution Avenue marched from Capitol Hill to Freedom Plaza to honor George Floyd and all victims of racial injustice on Saturday, June 6, 2020. © Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images