The latest report from Save The Children gives a harrowing look at the quality of child welfare worldwide. On the one hand, it repeats a sad truth that won’t surprise many: children born in Europe are generally better off than those born in Africa. But the scale of the disparity– and the number of children that face destitution and abuse— is jaw-dropping. Plus, just because it’s been said before doesn’t mean it’s not important to say it again. And to keep saying it. “… it’s important that Save the Children and others keep bringing it up and putting it before the public because it can be forgotten, ignored or passed over amidst the news of the day,” says Robert Black, the director of international programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, tells NPR.
In addition to ranking the 172 countries surveyed— the US came 36th, in part due to a high adolescent birth rate compared to other developing countries— perhaps the more enlightening part of the report was breaking down the numbers of actual children affected by the issues at hand. Child labor, lack of education, being forced to work or marry— issues that affect far too many children around the world. Maybe if we stop thinking it is a problem somewhere else and start trying to understand and appreciate the sheer number of children struggling, we’ll be more likely to act.
The report is worth reading on its merit, because it’s so packed with information. But NPR pulled out some key findings that everyone should be aware of:
- 263 million kids out of school
- 168 million doing child labor
- 156 million kids under the age of 5 whose growth is stunted
- 40 million married off as child brides
- 28 million forced to flee their homes
Just let those stats sink in for a second. Over 150,000,000 children with stunted growth. 40,000,000 child brides. How has it it gotten this far?
The recommendations of the report are simple— invest in children, ensure that children are treated equally, that they have an education, and that no child dies of preventable diseases, malnutrition, violence, or child labour. Simple, right? It sounds like less than the least we should be asking for— and yet it’s still out of reach for so many. The report shows just how far off of that goal we still are.
“Childhood should be a safe time of life for growing, learning and playing,” the report read. “Every child deserves a childhood of love, care and protection so they can develop to their full potential. But this is not the experience for at least a quarter of our children worldwide.”
It’s a problem that is too easy to look away from. You may ignore it completely, you may give a few dollars a month, you may even give a little more. But, as a people, we are not doing enough. We’re letting the situation grow and we’re letting the problem fester. But the report is right— every child deserve a childhood. And it’s everyone’s responsibility to make that happen.