People's Stories Children's Rights

At least 700 million children worldwide have been robbed of their childhoods
by Save the Children, agencies
June 2017
One in four of the world''s children - at least 700 million - have had their childhood cut short by factors ranging from illness and conflict to child marriage and being out of school, Save the Children said this week.
The hardest-hit children live in West and Central Africa - which accounted for seven of the 10 bottom-ranked countries in Save the Children''s first ''End of Childhood'' index, ranking 172 nations by where childhood is most intact or eroded.
Niger, Angola and Mali were the worst-ranked countries for children in the annual index, which was topped by Norway, Slovenia and Finland.
Most of the affected 700 million children live in disadvantaged communities in developing countries, where they have been bypassed by progress in health, education and technology that has improved the lives of many of their peers, the charity said.
"Many of these children suffer from a toxic mix of poverty and discrimination, and experience several childhood enders," Save the Children International''s Chief Executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
While conflict and poverty are major threats to the futures of children, many also suffer because of discrimination, with girls, child refugees and those from ethnic or religious minorities among the most vulnerable.
Countries must tackle discriminatory policies and practices, boost data and invest in public services if the world is to meet the U.N. global development goals set in 2015, said the report.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which committed to end extreme poverty and inequality by 2030, pledged to reach first those who are most in need, and to leave no-one behind.
"We have no chance of achieving the SDGs unless the basic right to childhood is protected," Thorning-Schmidt said.
Worldwide, half as many children under the age of five now die from preventable causes compared to 1990, while the number of those out of school or trapped in forced labour has declined by around one third since 2000, according to various studies.
Despite this progress, at least a quarter of the world''s children are faced with one or more threats to their future, with early marriage and pregnancy linked to the risk of infant mortality and missing out on education, Save the Children said.
In a school in the Senegalese city of Thies, Khadidiatou and two other child brides explained how they were the "lucky ones".
"We have friends who have never been to school or were taken out because of marriage," said Khadidiatou, whose husband''s family allowed her to continue her schooling after being wed at 14. "We feel fortunate to still have a chance of a good future."
Violence is a growing concern with more and more children living in conflict, where they are twice as likely to die before five as those in peaceful nations, said Save the Children.
In Central African Republic, Mali and Nigeria - countries beset by militant violence and mass displacement - more than one in 10 children die before their fifth birthday, compared with one in 500 in a country such as Finland, World Bank data shows.
Yet these deaths are more often caused by disease, malnutrition and poor healthcare than by bombs or bullets.
Aid agencies need to integrate long-term development approaches and resilience-building efforts into their response to crises, experts say.
"Temporary solutions aren''t good enough anymore.. we need to realise people could be in crisis situations for years rather than months and work towards making them much more resilient," said U.N. children''s agency (UNICEF) spokesman Patrick Rose.
The world has a long way to go if it is to meet its target of ensuring all children have a full childhood - including access to healthcare and education - by 2030, according to Save the Children.
Governments should invest in basic services for children and ensure they are affordable, end policies and practices that discriminate based on a child''s gender or ethnicity, and count all children in data used to measure progress on the SDGs.
Yet there is a lack of data on the most marginalised parts of society, and investing in efforts to boost data collection is often a low priority on the development agenda, activists say.
Traditional data gathering methods such as household surveys often exclude the poorest and most vulnerable children, such as refugees, nomads and those living on the streets, according to Lumos, a children''s charity.
Sexual violence and human trafficking would have been included in the Save the Children index as factors that can end a childhood early - if the right data had been available, the charity said.
"We need more data on particularly vulnerable segments of the population," said Soumya Chattopadhyay, a senior research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) thinktank in London. "But we suffer from a severe lack of financing and initiatives to fill the gaps."
Such strategies may anyway come too late for many of the 700 million children whose childhoods are under threat today.
Stolen Childhoods: End of Childhood Report
Childhood ends far too early for millions of children around the world, and the impact is often felt for the rest of their lives. Our new report, Stolen Childhoods, looks at eight defining life events that signal the end of childhood.
In many parts of the world, children can hardly expect any childhood at all. Stolen Childhoods: End of Childhood Report looks at where childhood is most threatened - and the eight reasons why:
Every 7 seconds, a girl under 15 gets married.
Poverty often drives families to marry off their girls at a young age but once married, girls are often deprived of their rights to freedom, education and a childhood.
Majerah, from Afghanistan, wanted to be a doctor but she was forced to leave school at 14 and get married. Her in-laws treat her like a slave, making her do all the housework. The family disrespects her because she has not been able to have a child, and she has been hit by her husband several times.
“I was forced into adult life way too early,” Majerah says, “all my dreams have been shattered forever. I feel I am not alive anymore. One cannot live without hopes and dreams.”
Every two seconds, a girl gives birth.
A girl’s childhood ends abruptly when her health and wellbeing are put at risk by pregnancy, and she becomes responsible for raising a child when she is still a child herself. Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
168 million children worldwide are involved in child labour.
When families need the income, children often have no choice but to work, which means they miss out on play, education, rest and, in effect, childhood.
Today, 168 million children are trapped in child labour and half of them are involved in hazardous forms of work such as cotton picking, military service, construction, mining, waste site scavenging and brick making.
A quarter of all children under five are stunted due to malnutrition.
Stunting, a condition caused by chronic malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, affects 156 million children under five. It limits the physical development that should occur during childhood, as well as a child’s ability to play and interact, and perform well in school.
This can have a devastating impact on childhood, as well as future education and work life, keeping them bound by the chain of poverty.
More than 1 in 6 children are out of school worldwide.
Education is a core part of childhood. School is where children learn, make friends and build a foundation for a good life. But approximately 263 million children are not in school; more than the number of children living in the developed world.
Many of these children are excluded from learning due to ethnicity, gender, or because they have a disability. For example, about 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn, compared to approximately 10 million boys. And refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children.
Every day, more than 200 boys and girls are murdered.
Violence ends hundreds of children’s lives every day. And for those who survive, seeing or experiencing violence can have a devastating impact. Depression, anxiety and other emotional repercussions take a devastating toll on childhood.
And fear of violence can have a knock-on impact too. For example, in El Salvador, nearly 40,000 children dropped out of school in 2015 because of concerns about gang violence.
Conflict has forced nearly 28 million children to flee their homes.
When war, violence and persecution force a child to flee their home, it often means they enter a world where they’re denied their right to education, healthcare, safety. And without these basic elements of childhood, a child’s entire future is threatened.
Ahlam and her family endured months of airstrikes and hunger before they fled their home in northern Iraq. She was out of school for two years. “I left behind my toys…. my school…. I had everything. Here I don’t have toys. I prefer to go back home. It has been a long time since we saw our home….”
To recover and contribute positively to their societies, children like Ahlam must be given opportunities for education and help to overcome traumatic experiences.
Every day, more than 16,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
When children die before their fifth birthday, it’s often from preventable or treatable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and complications during birth – and the world’s most disadvantaged children are most at risk because they often don’t have access to healthcare, clean water and healthy food.
In Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Somalia, 10% of children do not live to see their fifth birthday.
We need world leaders to do more. We’re calling on world leaders to value every child’s right to survive, thrive and be protected by following through on the commitments they made under the Sustainable Development Goals.
* Stolen Childhoods report:

Visit the related web page

130 million girls didn’t go to school today
by ONE, Plan International, CARE, agencies
May 2017
130 million girls didn’t go to school today. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they weren’t given the chance.
They are denied an education for a variety of reasons, from cultural norms and costs, to violence and extremism. The result is that these 130 million girls don’t have a fair chance to live a decent and productive life, and the entire world misses out by not benefitting from their potential.
This is a global crisis. We need to sound the alarm to our elected officials. It’s up to all of us to push them to mobilize resources and support key policy reforms that get these girls in school.
130 million is a big number. But this isn’t about numbers: It’s about real girls with hopes and dreams being denied the fair chance of a future.
The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies are meeting soon in Hamburg, Germany. This G20 Class of 2017 could get top marks by agreeing to support new financing and policies that would help get every girl into school. Or they could fall further behind by doing nothing.
Poverty is sexist - it hits girls and women hardest. But educate a girl in one of the world’s poorest countries, and it can dramatically improve her health, wealth, and potential. She’s less likely to become a child bride, experience violence or contract HIV. And she could help lift her family — and her entire country — out of poverty.
If you agree that all girls count, add your name to send G20 leaders their report card now.
G20 leaders, 130 million girls are not in school. That’s unacceptable. I’m counting on you to put in place adequate financing and policies to help ensure that every girl, in every country, gets the education she deserves. I believe girls count - I hope you do too.
* Save the Children. Every Last Girl Report:

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook