More than half of the world’s children are being robbed of their childhoods as a result of conflict, poverty and gender based violence, a new report from charity Save the Children has found. Around 1.2 billion children live under the bread line and almost 153 million children live in areas affected by what researchers identified as the three main threats affecting children’s wellbeing: poverty combined with violence and high levels of discrimination against girls. “This report is in its second year, and this year we were able to look at factors which threaten childhood through specific lenses,” said spokesperson Bhanu Bhatnagar.  “This data is extensive and will really help paint a picture of where work needs to be done to protect children worldwide.”

The research, released ahead of International Children’s Day on Friday 1 June, uses indicators of poor health, malnutrition, lack of education, child labour, marriage, early pregnancy and violence to rank 175 countries according to where childhood is most and least threatened.  The report, titled ‘The Many Faces of Exclusion’, found that the top three countries where childhood is protected are Singapore, Slovenia and Norway. Despite their wealth, the US (36th), Russia (37th) and China (40th) all trailed behind Western European countries in the new index.

The bottom 10 countries were all in Africa: Niger, Mali, the Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the immediate threat to life and limb from violence in war zones, the report found malnutrition and disease – coupled with inadequate access to healthcare – killed 20 times as many children as violence related to conflict. And when the fighting ends, it can have long-lasting effects.

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