UNITED NATIONS -- Childhood, for some 700 million worldwide, has been snatched away, according to a new report on the devastating effects of violence, child labor, early marriage, malnutrition and four other childhood “enders” in 172 countries profiled, including the United States.
The report by Save the Children, entitled “Stolen Childhoods,” says children in northern European nations fare best, with Norway’s kids coming out on top while their counterparts in Western Africa‘s Niger are worst off, the report said.
In the United States, which ranked 36th globally, the kids with the best chance of healthy childhoods are clustered in the northeast and Midwest, with New Hampshire at the top of the heap and southern and southwestern states like Louisiana at the bottom.
“The poverty, injustice and violence that we see in our nations are so often rooted in childhoods without nutritious food and clean water, without health care and without education,” said Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden and chair of the board of Save the Children, a non-profit organization.. “While there may be recovery, once stolen, childhood can never be replaced.”
Biden appeared at the UN’s Manhattan headquarters along with Save the Children’s president and chief executive officer, Carolyn Miles, and Marta Santos Pais, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ special representative on violence against children on the eve of the International Children’s Day, which is celebrated on Thursday.
The report identified eight childhood “enders” for the global study -- violence, extreme poverty, child labor, early marriage, being out of school, malnutrition, forced displacement and pregnancy.
The reports highlights: 263 million kids are out of school; 168 million are in child labor; 156 million under 5 years old are malnourished; 40 million girls from 15 to 19 years old are married; 28 million children were forced from their homes; 16 million girls from 15 to 19 years old give birth each year; eight million kids die each year from preventable diseases; and 75,000 males and females under 20 years old were murdered in 2015.
In the United States portion of the study, the researchers identified infant mortality, food insecurity, high school graduation, homicide/suicide and teen births as childhood enders.
The top 10 U.S. states were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Rhode Island. The bottom 10 states were Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Nevada and Arizona.
Miles said that the states that did best “prioritize children” budgeting education, health, prevention of violence against children while the others place less legislative and economic resources toward children.
“There is a sense of urgency we want you to understand and to help us disseminate,” Santos Pais said, citing an estimate that the cost of violence against children amounts to a staggering $7 trillion each year. “There is no room for complacency and the clock is ticking.”