Children deserve to enjoy their childhood but in the world today, a large number of children are denied the basic rights of children and are often thrown headlong into roles that are more befitting of adults. In Cases of stolen childhood abounds and more awareness on how bad the situation is, is desperately needed.
African children seem to be the worst hit by this stolen childhood malaise. According to a report from the international NGO, Save the Children, children in parts of sub-Saharan Africa are among the worst off in the world.
The international NGO ranked 172 countries based on where childhood is the most protected and where it’s been eroded the most. In their opening salvo to the report titled; “Stolen Childhood” they write;
“Childhood should be a safe time of life for growing, learning and playing. Every child deserves a childhood of love, care and protection so they can develop to their full potential. But this is not the experience for at least a quarter of our children worldwide.
The majority of these children live in disadvantaged communities in developing countries, where they have been bypassed by progress that has lifted up many of their peers. Many suffer from a toxic mix of poverty and discrimination – excluded because of who they are: a girl, a refugee, from an ethnic minority or a child with a disability. These threats to childhood are also present in high-income countries. All countries, rich and poor, can do a better job of ensuring every child enjoys the right to a childhood.”
Here are eight indices pointed out by Save the Children which are definitely true in Africa;
There are still a lot of African children out of school:
Worldwide, Save the Children says there are 263 MILLION children are out of school. African children make up a substantial amount of that number with things like poverty and gender still holding back children from school.
African children are engaged in child labor:
The number of children involved in child labor around the world is a staggering 168 MILLION children with over half of them doing hazardous work. African children are often involved in mining for raw materials to make products like smartphones and even chocolates.
Over 156 MILLION children, around the world, under age 5 have stunted growth. Food insecurity in many African countries affected by drought or even ridden by war means that many African children make up that number.
Stats from Save the Child show that about 40 MILLION girls (aged 15-19) are currently married or in a union. 15 million are married as children each year (under age 18) and 4 million of those are married under age 15. Although a number of African countries have increased the legal age for marriage, child marriages still abound on the continent.
Worldwide, roughly 16 MILLION girls between the ages of 15 and 19 – and 1 million girls under age 15 – give birth each year. Most child marriages make female children grow up too fast – they become mothers at a very early age, losing their childhood and innocence.