What do children require for the best start in life?

© UNICEF/ HQ99-0849/ LeMoyne
Two women from the Dao ethnic group, carrying children on their backs, in Lason Commune, Ha Nam, Viet Nam.

Child and maternal health

While it is indeed fully possible to secure the best start in life for every child, to ensure their survival, health and development, experience shows that the process is long and there are no short cuts. Efforts to improve child and maternal health need systematic planning, adequate resources and broad, committed partnerships, centred on supporting communities.

The role of nutrition in a child's survival, growth and development

Just as the damaging effects of malnutrition can pass from one generation to the next, so can the benefits of good nutrition. Giving a child a solid nutritional start has life-long benefits on her or his physical, mental and social development.

Children and the environment

Children are more susceptible to environmental hazards and degradation than adults due to their physiological immaturity and behavioural characteristics. The most common threats to their survival, growth and physical/mental development often come from the immediate environments, such as home, school and community.
To protect children from environmental hazards, UNICEF works with all its partners towards the attainment of sustainable development goals through advocacy efforts and direct programme support, mainly in the water, sanitation and hygiene areas.

Protection from violence, exploitation and discrimination

Protection is a universal imperative and the right of every child. Violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation threaten children throughout their lives. Children and young people are more vulnerable than are adults to being hurt, neglected, abused and exploited. Their survival is put at risk and their full development is compromised. Violence against children occurs within families, and in schools, communities and institutions.

Psycho-social care and early learning.  A new direction

Attention to early childhood development is an imperative if we are to ensure all children are physically healthy, emotionally secure, socially competent and mentally alert and ready to learn. If children develop well in their early, pre-school years, they tend to do better in school and subsequent education.



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