About 25% of children worldwide, or at least 700 million, see their childhoods end too soon, according to a new report by the non-profit group Save The Children.
Malnutrition, conflict, child marriage, early pregnancy, economic exclusion and child labor – “childhood enders” – are among the many factors that impede children’s young lives across all regions in the planet.
Dr. Jill Biden, former U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden’s wife and Save the Children’s board chair, and Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of the non-profit, highlight the significance of their findings (see video).
Why This Issue Matters
These conditions constitute an assault on the future of the world’s children and is, in a way, an existential type of threat to the future of humanity. Depriving the world’s children today degrades humanity’s overall capacity to supply tomorrow’s minds with abilities to solve its biggest questions and toughest problems. An investment in today’s children represents an investment in the future.
The future aside, childhood should be a safe time of life for growing, learning and playing. Every child deserves a life of love, care and protection so they can develop to their full potential.
Communities across all countries, rich and poor, can do a better job of ensuring every child enjoys the right to a childhood, the report urges. Using a “Childhood Index,” the non-profit has ranked 172 countries on who are succeeding, or failing, to provide conditions that nurture and protect their youngest citizens.
The United States ranked #36 in the list, below most other western nations in Europe and – a surprise – even below other countries like Bosnia or Qatar and just a notch above Kuwait and Russia.
The Eight Enders
Among the statistics cited, are what the report calls the eight “childhood enders.” They are:
- 263 million are out of school
- 168 million are in child labor or are in exploited, hazardous work
- 156 million under age 5 are stunted in growth
- 40 million girls marry young (15-19 years old)
- 28 million are children-refugees
- 16 million are young mothers (15-19 years old)
- 8 million die prematurely (0-19 years old)
- 75 thousand die by homicide (0-19 years old)
Challenges to childhood are most pronounced in West and Central Africa.
The top 10 countries with the highest child homicide rates are all in Latin America or the Carribean.
The top 10 countries with the most children refugees are the same countries the current U.S. administration has issued travel bans against – Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.
Calls to Action
The report urges a number of broad actions, placing most of the burden for “child-ender” solutions squarely on governments, although there is certainly room for donors, philanthropic innovators and private parties to pitch in.
- Invest in children – governments and donors need to raise the necessary resources to invest in basic social services, education, financial security and social protection.
- Treat children equally – end discriminatory policies, norms and behaviors such as preventing girls or minorities from access to health services or education.
- Count children accurately – to help measure progress, data collection systems should be standardized to ensure no child is left unreported. This would include data by age, economic group, gender, sex, race, ethnicity and geography, immigration status.
Source: Save The Children