There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats it’s children. – Nelson Mandela
In the past couple of years there have been moments, after hearing yet another horrific news story, that I have wondered out loud to my husband if there might be a safer country where we could move for the sake of our children. According to a new report released yesterday by Save the Children, there are 35 countries that do a better job for their children overall than the USA. All parents wish for a safe place in which their kids can grow up, and the good news is that globally, the lives of children have improved greatly over the past 18 years. Save the Children’s 3rd annual Global Childhood Report, entitled Changing Lives in Our Lifetime, has come out just in time for International Children’s Day on June 1st. The 2019 report also commemorates Save the Children’s 100th anniversary.
Changing Lives in Our Life time ranks 175 countries on how children fare against what are referred to as “childhood enders”. These include displacement by conflict and extreme violence, the mortality rate of children under 5, adolescent birth rates, child marriage, child labor, school dropout rates, and malnutrition. The report also maps out what countries can do better to protect their children. The children of the world are the future of our planet, and as adults, it is our responsibility to put their welfare at the very forefront of our concerns.
Save the Children CEO, Carolyn Miles, noted during a debriefing call about the Global Childhood Report, that the data making up the heart of these findings spans 18 years, perfectly correlating with the length of what we consider the span of childhood. For still too many children in the world, childhood ends early, but the new report highlights a success story of progress. Since the year 2000 deaths of children under the age of 5 have dropped by nearly half. More children are growing up healthy and in school, and fewer are forced in to child labor or marriages.
Carolyn Miles points out that the numbers prove that progress is possible. The lives of children around the world have improved in almost every metric but one. She says, “We have to do more about kids stuck in conflict.”
More children are displaced by violence or conflict, and over half of the world’s refugees are children. The Global Childhood Report puts a spotlight on the impact on children living in conflict zones. It is evident that those are the places where progress is stalled or halted. Education for Syrian children has dropped by 60%, and malnutrition has risen by 42% due to the conflict in Venezuela. There has been an 80% rise in families needing to flee due to violence since the year 2000, and the children are the ones who suffer most.
In the case of the USA, John Farden, Associate VP of Save the Children US Programs, says, “Poor and rural children are the ones we see being left behind the most. Public investment and the voting demographic have lowered senior poverty, while child poverty has stayed the same. It is worst for the rural poor.” The USA has seen dramatic improvement in certain areas, such as a significant drop in teen births, the number of malnourished children has nearly halved and many more kids are in school. Though the USA has improved it has done so at half the pace of both Russia and China.
There are 10 driving factors of change that have worked to improve the lives of children around the world detailed in this year’s report. They are, the Millennium Development Goals, governmental commitment, social investment and economic growth, improved planning and implementation, reducing inequities, development assistance, empowering women and girls, women’s leadership, new technologies, and yes, even social media. Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, said, the improvements made in the lives of children since the year 2000 prove that progress is possible. Instead of moving our families to Singapore, not that we would all fit, as mothers and citizens we need to keep our governments accountable for the highest possible standards of living for our children.
To read the full report and to see where your country ranks in the 2019 Global Childhood Report Changing Lives in Our Lifetime
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Elizabeth Atalay