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Facts on Children

Child protection

Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth and development.  An estimated 300 million children worldwide are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse including the worst forms of child labor in communities, schools and institutions; during armed conflict; and to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.

Child Protection key data:

Birth Registration (2003)

• In 2003 nearly 50 million births go unregistered every year.
• South Asia has the largest number of unregistered children, with more than 23 million of births not registered. This equates to over 47 per cent of the unregistered births worldwide.
• In Sub-Saharan Africa, 55 per cent of children under five have not been registered.

Child Labour (2004)

• Estimates suggest that there were about 317 million economically active children aged 5 to 17 in 2004, of whom 218 million could be regarded as child labourers. Of the latter, 126 million were engaged in hazardous work.
• Children working in the home of a third party or ‘employer’ are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. ILO estimates that more girls under age 16 are in domestic service than in any other category of child labour.
• It is estimated that 5.7 million children are trapped into forced or bonded labour.
Child Marriage

• Data collected from 1987 to 2005 showed that in developing countries 36 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married or in union before they reached 18 years of age.
• An estimated 14 million adolescents between 15 and 19 give birth each year.
• Marriage of young girls is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Child Trafficking

• According to the latest estimates in for 2002, some 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year.

Children Associated with Armed Groups

• Latest estimates suggest that more than 250,000 children are currently serving as child soldiers.
• An estimated 90 per cent of global conflict-related deaths since 1990 have been civilians, and 80 percent of these have been women and children.

Children and Justice

• More than 1 million children worldwide are detained by law enforcement officials.

Children without Parental Care

• There are an estimated 133 million children who are orphans (children aged 0–17 who have lost one or both parents) world wide. Of these children, 15 million were orphaned by AIDS, more than 12 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
• Asia has the highest number of orphans due to all causes, with 74 million children.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

• Of the 1.39 million people involved in forced commercial sexual exploitation and 40–50 per cent are children.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

• It is estimated that more than 130 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting.
•  FGM/C occurs mainly in countries stretching from Senegal in West Africa to Somalia in East Africa and to Yemen in the Middle East, but it is also practiced in some parts of south-east Asia. Reports from Europe, North America and Australia indicate that it is practiced among immigrant communities in those regions as well.

Violence against Children

• Studies conducted since 1980 suggest that worldwide 20 per cent of women and 5 to 10 per cent of men suffered sexual abuse as children

Updated: April 2007