The concept of social exclusion has been widely debated in Europe but its application to children has seen relatively little discussion. What could be meant by exclusion of children is the first main theme of the paper. Among other things, I consider the choice of reference group, the geographical dimension of exclusion, and the issue of who is responsible for any exclusion of children. The second main theme is the use of the concept of exclusion in the USA, where in contrast to Europe it has achieved little penetration to date. To assess whether there is fertile ground for discussion of social exclusion as it relates to children in the US, I discuss various features of US society and institutions including the measurement of poverty, analysis of children's living standards, state versus federal responsibilities, welfare reform and the emphasis on 'personal responsibility'.