Yesterday, a new and disturbing report was released by UNICEF, entitled "The State of the World's Children 2006." It describes the plight of hundreds of millions of children who have disappeared from sight and are considered "unreachable and invisible" due to many factors such as child trafficking, and closed door work environments such as mines, factories, domestic jobs and the sex trade. There are also street children and orphans who may be heading up their own families that are living in plain sight, but they are not connected at all to the social services, or school systems. These children are not being helped through any type of development relief campaigns.
The report identifies 4 key situations/circumstances in which children are most likely to become invisible and forgotten:
Children without an identity: More that 50 million children are not registered at birth and therefore are not counted in statistics or even officially recognized. Consequently, they have no access to education or health care. They have an increased risk of being exploited.
Children without parental care: One in every 13 children in the developing world (143 million children) has lost at least one parent. 15 million of those from AIDS alone. Consequently, the loss of the parent makes the child vulnerable to economic poverty. They have to drop out of school, and go to work to care for siblings. They become prone to exploitation and abuse, and losing their housing/shelter.
Children forced into adult roles: Approx. 250,000 children are currently serving as child soldieers in armed conflicts worldwide. They are forced to participate in and experience horrific atrocities and extreme violence.
Children who are exploited: Children who are victims of exploitation are arguably the most invisible because they are shut away by their abusers and become very difficult to track. The best estimates indicate 8.4 million children work in the worst forms of child labour.
Where does one start to even absorb these numbers let alone try to find a way to help solve such a monumental and overwhelming problem? It's mind-boggling and unacceptable.
Awareness.............is the beginning.............Taking responsibility of the safety and health of the children in your own part of the world is a small step.............supporting UNICEF, the world leader for children is another.....staying informed, learning about the Millenium Development Goals set by World Leaders to be reached by 2015 is a start.........
It's so difficult to have a leap of faith. Is something really being done about this? I don't like the feeling of having no control over the plight of these children.