Do all children enjoy their childhood?
Sadly, the answer is no.
Globally, the most vulnerable children share 8 factors that rob them of their childhoods:
1. Stunting (being too short for one’s age due to poor nutrition)
2. Dropping out of school
3. Early death
4. Child labor
5. Early marriage
6. Early pregnancy
7. Displacement due to conflict
8. Child homicide
Although highly preventable, several Filipino children still suffers from these problems.
Good nutrition, education, love and support are essential in giving children normal, healthy, and happy childhoods.
Unfortunately, not all children have access to such basic needs.
Save the Children recently released a report entitled “Stolen Childhoods,” which documents how countries fare in the above factors.
The Philippines ranked 96th, left behind by other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore (33rd), Brunei (64th), Malaysia (65th), Thailand (84th), and Vietnam (92nd).
We did, however, fare a bit better than our neighbors Indonesia (101st), Myanmar (112th), Cambodia (117th), Timor Leste (122nd), and Laos (130th).
Meanwhile, countries like Norway, Netherlands, and Sweden fared very well. And those that showed poorest results include Somalia, Congo, and South Sudan.
The report proves that a lot of work is yet to be done to improve the lives of children worldwide. And the first step begins at home.
Although our country’s literacy rate is generally high, the fact remains that not all girls and boys have access to quality education.
In fact, 5.2% of young Filipinos are not in elementary or high school. There are different reasons why this happens, but among the biggest factors is poverty.
Due to poverty, some children are forced to leave school to work. In the Philippines, 11.1% of children ages 5 to 14 is engaged in child labor.
Meanwhile, 9.7% of Filipino girls ages 15 to 19 is already married or in union. Some of these marriages are arranged – forcing girls to leave school, drop their dreams, or bear children when they’re not yet ready.
Another reason why some children leave school is poor health.
Some Filipino children go to school with an empty stomach. How can they absorb lessons if feeling weak and dizzy? Malnourished children may perform poorly at school, they may also miss classes often.
Stunting, a form of malnutrition, delays both body and brain development. The Philippines ranks 9th in the world with the highest number of stunted children.
Without intervention, stunted children are also 4 times more at risk of dying.
Lastly, several children are forced to leave their homes due to conflict. They lose their homes, schools, loved ones, and at worst – their lives.
In May-June 2017 alone, the conflict situation in Marawi affected around 80,000 children, including babies.
Exposure to such violence can also harm a child’s mental and emotional well-being.
These eight factors should not continue stealing childhoods. We can end its reign over children’s lives.
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