See the child before the disability, UNICEF says
Pretoria, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report released globally today.
The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. For instance, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children even as it presents opportunities for children with disabilities to fulfill their ambitions.
"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that the child has to offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain.”
Globally, there is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families.
In South Africa, the launch of the report coincides with Child Protection Week and serves to highlight the right of all children – especially the most vulnerable such as children with disabilities. Results from South Africa’s latest general household survey in 2011, indicate that 5,2 per cent of the population over four years of age is living with some kind of disability.
The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions – as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them. The combined result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalised people in the world.
South Africa’s ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 has accelerated the implementation of programmes and services for children with disabilities. However, existing legislation needs to be strengthened to ensure full compliance with the Convention.
Download a copy of The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities
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