By Kevin Anyonge
Childhood can be defined as the state of being a child in simple English, but according to UNICEF Childhood is the time for children to be in school and at play, to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults. It is a precious time in which children should live free from fear, safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation. As such, childhood means much more than just the space between birth and the attainment of adulthood. It refers to the state and condition of a child’s life, to the quality of those years.
Childhood period should be safe time of life for growing, playing and learning. Love, care and protection is what every child desires during childhood to grow to full potential but this has not been the case globally since a quarter of children do not have this experience. Developing countries is where a majority of this disadvantaged children live and have been bypassed by the progress that’s has lifted up many of their peers.
A new report End of Childhood is out and it has outlined so many factors dealing with children during their childhood. At least 700 million children worldwide and possibly hundreds of millions more their childhood has ended too soon. Factors that have caused massive global ended childhood crisis are child labor, poor health, malnutrition, early child marriage, Early Pregnancy, Conflicts, Violence and exclusion from education. The indicators used to measure the end of childhood were;
- Under five mortality
- Malnutrition that stunts growth
- Out-of-school children,
- Child labor
- Early marriage
- Adolescent births
- Displacement by conflict and child homicide.
Highlights from the report;
- 263 million children are out of school.
- 168 million children are involved in child labor. Half (85 million) are doing hazardous work.
- Nearly 28 million children have been forced to flee their homes (11 million are refugees and asylum-seekers; 17 million are internally displaced).
- Around 8 million boys and girls aged0-19 die each year;75% (6 million) are children under age 5 .2
- Roughly 16 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 – and 1 million girls under age 15 give birth each year.
- 75,000+ boys and girls under the age of 20 were murdered in 2015.
- 156 million children under age 5 have stunted growth.
- About 40 million girls (aged 15-19) are currently married or in union. 15 million are married as children each year (under age 18) and 4 million of those are married under age 15.
The End of Childhood Index focused on a set of life changing events that indicate the disruption of childhood. A total of 172 countries were ranked based on where childhood is most intact and mostly eroded. This report showed countries that are succeeding and failing in provision of conditions to nurture and protect their youngest citizens.
Norway, Slovenia and Finland were top on the ranking in the top ten, this top ten countries attained very high scores for children’s health, education and protection status. While the bottom ten were Mali, Angola and Niger are performing poorly on most indicators. Children from the bottom ten countries are not likely to fully experience childhood hence time that should be dedicated to emotional, social and physical development, as well as play. In these and many other countries around the world, man children are robbed of significant portions of their childhoods.
Kenya was ranked 119 with a score of 750 points out of 1,000. Kenya performed well in universal education, low child rates of child labour and children in conflict, However the areas of concern for Kenya were the under 5 mortality, stunt growth and early pregnancies among adolescent.
In two reports released within a month ranks Kenya above 100, Hence the need for the government to work on the issues highlighted.
The report recommends that in order for childhood to be saved the following actions must be taken with urgency.
1. Investing in children,To achieve the SDGs and ensure that all children have
access to quality basic services, including protection and social protection services, governments (including donors) need to raise the necessary resources.
2. Ensuring all children are treated equally, End discriminatory policies, norms and behaviors such as preventing girls from accessing health services or denying education to a child because of her or his ethnicity or gender.
3. Counting and including all children, regardless of who they are or where they are from Governments need to ensure that all children, especially excluded children, are counted in data that are used to measure progress on the SDGs.
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Kevin Anyonge is a journalist with Mtoto News,
Save the Children International Campaigns
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