Millions of children robbed of their childhood, says report

As the world marks the International Children’s, day, Save the children foundation has launched the first ever End Childhood Report and Index that shows how millions of children around the world are being robbed of their childhood.

The report has listed poor health, conflicts, extreme violence, child marriage, early pregnancy, malnutrition, exclusion from education and child labour as the leading factors stealing childhood each year in East and Southern Africa.

The report dubbed ‘Stolen Childhoods’ ranks 172 countries globally according to where childhood is most and least threatened.

In EAC region, the End Childhood index ranking saw Rwanda come in at number 112 out of the 172 ahead of the other five in the region with some of its children missing out on the childhood. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Sudan and Tanzania were ranked at, 132, 139, 141, 144 and 145 respectively, as countries with many children missing out on childhood.

Norway, Slovenia and Finland top the rankings as attaining very high scores for children’s health, education and protection status.

A press release by the Save the Children Kenya released on Thursday showed that significant progress has been made in recent years with regards to addressing malnutrition with stunted children in East and Southern Africa declining from 53 percent in 1990 to 35 percent in 2016.

These figures will likely rise as devastating drought grips Horn of Africa region, the report says.

Launched to coincide with International Children’s Day marked on 1st June, the Stolen Childhood report states that at least 700 million children globally have had the promise of a full childhood brought to an early end.

The reasons vary from extreme violence and conflict that often drive families from their homes, early marriages and pregnancies, child labour, poor health and not being able to go to school.

The report reveals that while the rate of child marriage is decreasing, one in three girls in East and Southern Africa marry before their 18th birthday. This robs those children of their childhood exposing them to life-long challenges in their education, psychosocial health and general well-being.

If nothing is changed, by 2050, almost 50 percent of girls married before the age of 18 will be in Africa, the report says.

The report added there is a strong correlation between displacement and children out of school in East and Southern Africa, meaning countries with higher levels of displacement tend to have more children out of school.

David Wright, Save the Children Regional Director in East and Southern Africa said: Children growing up in war, being targeted by violent groups, suffering and dying from disease, and experiencing harsh discrimination, are being robbed of everything that makes them children.

It is unacceptable that in 2017, millions of children in this region and around the world still do not have their right to be safe, learn, grow and play. We must, and we can, do better than this, he said

In 2015, Wright added that the world made a promise that by 2030, all children would be in school, protected, and healthy, regardless of who they are, and where they live. Although this is an ambitious target, he said it was within reach if governments invest in all children to guarantee full childhood that they deserve.

In line with its Every Last Child campaign, Save the Children is calling on governments to ensure that no child dies from preventable or treatable causes or is subjected to extreme violence or robbed of a future as a result of malnutrition, early or forced marriage, early pregnancy or forced labour. The organization also requests that all children be given access to to quality education.

The child rights organization runs programmes to assist most marginalized and excluded children in hard-to-reach places around the world, providing them with access to health, shelter, education, vocational programmes and protection from harm.

A child is defined as someone under the age of 18, as per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every day, more than 16,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday, a majority from preventable causes.

Source: Kenya News Agency