According to a new report by Save the Children, three big threats are putting more than 1.2 billion children — more than half of children worldwide — at risk for an early end to their childhood. Many of these at-risk children live in countries facing two or three of these grave threats at the same time. In fact, 153 million children are at extreme risk of missing out on childhood because they live in countries characterized by all three threats. So what are these threats?
One billion children live in countries plagued by poverty. And those children living in poverty face a higher risk of death before age 5, malnutrition that stunts their growth, being out of school, being forced into child labor or early marriage, and giving birth while they are still children themselves.
2. Armed conflict
At least 240 million children live in countries affected by conflict and fragility. These children are at heightened risk of dying before age 5, stunted growth due to malnutrition, being out of school, being forced to work, and being forced from their homes under dangerous and frightening circumstances. (Read the World Vision report on the violence faced by displaced children here.)
3. Discrimination against girls
575 million girls live in countries characterized by discrimination against girls, often placing them at heightened risk of death before age 5, being denied an education, being forced into early marriage, and/or giving birth before they are emotionally and physically ready.
World Vision and Save the Children both believe that children have the right to a childhood. Regardless of where they were born, children deserve food, health, shelter, and education — free from fear, safe from violence, and protected from abuse and exploitation. In their second End of Childhood Index, Save the Children finds that, while the overall situation for children appears more favorable in 95 of 175 countries this year, progress is not happening fast enough, and conditions appear considerably worse in about 40 countries. Read the full report to learn more about what is threatening children’s childhoods and preventing them from reaching their potential.
Photo: Charlmanta, 8 months old, suffered chronic malnutrition and was at risk for stunted growth. After three weeks of treatment, he has started to gain weight and is now more active and playful. Credit: Save the Children Philippines.