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.
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!
Every year, circa 140 million children are born. Of these, 1 in 4 children are never registered before the age of five - 237 million children under the age of five thus have no written proof that they exist. This can make it very difficult to, for example, go to school or see a doctor.
Lack of food, clean water and good hygiene affects many children’s health. Every day, 16,000 children under five die. Poor children rarely go to the doctor, especially if they are girls. Every year, 2 million children die of common childhood illnesses that can be prevented by vaccination, because 1 child in 6 is not vaccinated. Malaria kills 1,500 children under five every day (approx. 500,000 per year). Only 5 in 10 children with malaria receive treatment, and only 5 in 10 children in the poorest malarial countries sleep under a mosquito net.
The number of children forced to work has increased in recent years to 160 million children, 1 in 10 children. In the poorest countries, about 1 in 4 children work. For 79 million children, work is very detrimental to their safety, health, development and schooling. Girls in particular are exploited in commercial sexual exploitation, CSEC. Around 300,000 children are used in war as soldiers, porters or deminers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, another 9 million children risk being forced to work in 2022. More boys than girls work, and more children in rural areas work than children in cities. And of all the millions of people trafficked each year, a third are estimated to be children.
Children in low-income families have less access to all of this than children in high-income families. Around 400 million children in the world live in poverty and the number is expected to increase in coming years due to the Covid pandemic. Millions of children live in homelessness, some live alone or with other children on the streets.
According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, you may only be locked in as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. Children who have committed a crime must receive care and help and they must never be punished with life imprisonment or death. No child may be subjected to torture or other cruel treatment. However, violence, solitary confinement and other abuses of children deprived of their freedom are common.
Only circa 64 of the world's countries have banned all forms of physical punishment of children. 1 in 3 children say that they have been subjected to bullying and/or abusive treatment at school. Children are also exposed to hate crimes or sexual abuse on the internet. Girls are particularly vulnerable to violence. About 1 in 3 girls in the world is estimated to be exposed to physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, often by a close relative such as a family member, relative, neighbor, teacher or partner.
Children from indigenous peoples and minorities are often exposed to injustice. Some are not allowed to speak their own language. Others may not believe in or love whomever they want. Many are discriminated against. For example, some do not get the same opportunities as other children, when it comes to school, sports and health care.
But children who have a disability of some sort are often among the most vulnerable and discriminated against in society. In many countries, children with disabilities are not even allowed to go to school, play or participate in society on the same terms as other children. There are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world, but the statistics are uncertain and there are probably many more.
Sources: Unicef. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.