Childhood ends early for many little ones across the world. Each day, millions of children have their right to a blissful childhood stolen from them, thanks to social and economic horrors.
To mark International Children’s Day, worldwide non-governmental organisation Save the Children recently released its 2017 End of Childhood report.
This report takes a hard look at eight factors that rob children of their childhood: malnutrition, child labour, child marriage, adolescent births, under-5 mortality, child homicide, displacement by conflict, and out-of-school children.
It also ranks 172 countries from best to worst, in terms of the kind of childhood they offer their youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
European countries, in particular Norway, Slovenia, and Finland, come out tops for the safety of their tots. West and Central African nations like Mali, Angola and Niger make up the countries where childhood is most threatened.
Being a kid in Singapore
What about sunny Singapore? The good news is we’ve been successful, relatively speaking, in creating a nurturing space for our kids.
Our little red dot is ranked the 33rd best place in the world to be a child, between Belarus at #32 and Malta at #34. The United States is #36 on the list, while China is ranked #41 and Malaysia #65.
Credit: Chutima Chaochaiya / Shutterstock.com
Here are the figures at a glance:
Singapore’s under-five mortality rate is one of the world’s lowest. Our hospitals see 2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births — even if that’s still 2.7 too many.
0.4% of our girls aged 15-19 are currently married. Again, this is one of the world’s lowest percentages. But much improvement is still needed to empower each and every one of our girls.
Fortunately, early pregnancy here is also relatively rare, at a rate of 3.8 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.
0.9 per 100,000 youths are victims of child homicide here.
And surprisingly, at 20.8%, Singapore’s percentage of out-of-school children of primary and secondary school age is moderately high.
So what do all these statistics mean for our real, flesh-and-blood children? The report shows that Singapore’s kids are comparatively safe and cared-for. Almost all our little ones enjoy the happy childhood they deserve. Yet our work isn’t over because some children, still, remain left behind.
Save the Children report: the world’s children
As parents, no one knows better than we do that every child is precious. No matter where they come from, no little life should be allowed to suffer harm.
The report shows us the horrifying statistics. 6 million tots under age 5 die every year, due to malnutrition and poor child healthcare.
168 million of the world’s children are forced into child labour, often in dangerous conditions. 263 million children are out of school worldwide, entrapping themselves in economic inequality.
Every two seconds, a young girl gives birth, endangering her health and future. Young mums below 19 are more likely to face childbearing complications, and to remain mired in a vicious cycle of poverty.
To work towards a brighter future where our children can simply be children, the report makes three recommendations. World leaders must pledge to:
1) invest in basic resources for children,
2) ensure equal treatment of all children regardless of ethnicity or gender, and
3) count and include all children.
Imagine a world where every child’s face is smiling and carefree. This world is possible — if we, collectively, work towards it. “The pledge to leave no one behind must be upheld,” says Save the Children says.
“Only then will we realise its potential to transform the lives of millions of children across the world, guaranteeing every last child the childhood they deserve.”
ALSO READ: Child sexual abuse in Asia is now at a critical level