As Americans, we maintain that we value children as the most important and precious elements of our lives. Yet, more than 670,000 children are victims of abuse annually, and our child poverty rate is at 25 percent, ranking as the second highest in the world.

Moreover, the governmental and nongovernmental agencies whose mission it is to be the safety net for these children are constantly in a pitched battle against the rising tide of these problems and a landscape of shrinking resources.

Child advocacy groups are among the least funded not-for-profit charities, while the problems facing children in the United States today begin to look more and more like those faced by children in the Third World.

We cannot imagine a crisis that represents as complete a departure from our American values than the dual dilemma posed by our rates of child abuse and child poverty. We are failing roughly one quarter of the next generation, and the prognosis for the future is not optimistic.