Children from Bolivia laughing
How are the children
of the world?

All countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have promised to respect the rights of the child. Still, violations of these rights are common in all countries. Here are a few examples – how are the children where you live?

You have the right to say what you think about any issue that affects you. Adults should listen to the child’s opinion before they make decisions, which must always be in the child’s best interests. Is this how things are in your country and in the world today? You and the rest of the world’s children know best! Therefore, YOUR voice must be heard!

From the day you are born you have the right to have a name and to be registered as a citizen of your home country. Every year, 138 million children are born. Over 48 million of these children are never registered. There is no documented proof that they exist!

Two boys in India working in mechanics shop

You have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and work that is hazardous to your health or that prevents you from going to school. All work is prohibited for children under 12.

Around 264 million children work, and for most of them, the work they do is directly harmful to their safety, health, morale and education. Some 5.5 million children are forced into the worst forms of child labour, as debt slaves, child soldiers or victims of the child sex trade. Every year, 1.2 million children are ‘trafficked’ in the modern day slave trade.

Child sleeping under bench, two police men watching.

You have the right to live in a safe environment. All children have the right to education, medical care and a decent standard of living. Around 100 million children live on the streets. For many, the streets are their only home. Others work and spend their days on the streets, but have families to return to at night.

Bal Ashram night time

You have the right to a home, food, clothing, education, health care and security. Over 900 million people, or 1 in 7, live in extreme poverty. Almost half of these people are children.


Children may only be imprisoned as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. No child may be subjected to torture or other cruel treatment. Children who have committed crimes should be given care and help. Children may not be sentenced to life imprisonment or receive the death penalty. At least 1 million children in the world are being held prisoner. Imprisoned children are often treated badly.

Former child soldiers burning their uniforms

You have the right to protection and care in times of war or if you are a refugee. Children affected by conflict and refugee children have the same rights as other children. Roughly 30 million children in the world are refugees – this is over half of all the refugees in the world. Over the last 10 years at least 2 million children have been killed in war. 6 million have suffered serious physical injuries. 10 million children have suffered serious psychological harm. 1 million have lost or become separated from their parents. Around 250,000 children are being used as soldiers, carriers or mine clearers (over 1,000 children are killed or injured by mines every year).

You have the right to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, maltreatment and abuse. 1 in 3 children is subjected to bullying. 4 in 5 children in the world between the ages of 2 and 14 are subjected to some sort of physical punishment and/or violence at home. Many countries allow corporal punishment in schools. Only 48 countries have banned all forms of physical punishment of children.

Three girls raising hands in classroom

You have the right to go to school. Primary and secondary schooling should be free for everyone. More than 9 out of 10 children in the world go to school, but there are still 58 million children who get no education whatsoever. More than half of these are girls.

Children who belong to minority groups or indigenous peoples have the right to their language, culture and religion. Examples of indigenous peoples include Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians and the Sami people of Northern Europe. The rights of indigenous and minority children are often violated. Their languages are not respected and they are bullied or discriminated against. Many children do not have access to medical care.

Boy with disabilities plays football

If you have a disability you have the same rights as everyone else. You have the right to receive support so that you can play an active role in society. Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in the world. In many countries they are not allowed to go to school. Many are treated like inferior beings and are kept hidden away. There are approximately 200 million children with disabilities in the world.

Sources: Unicef 2016. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children 2016.