‘STOLEN CHILDHOODS’ | PH environment for children ranked 96th among 172 nations 

June 6, 2017 - 10:12 PM
children rescue Marawi
A soldier and a rescuer carry children rescued from their homes in Papandayan village, Marawi City. (Reuters)

The fighting between the Maute terrorist group and government forces in Marawi City has forced hundreds of residents – including children – to flee their homes and stay temporarily in evacuation centers.

Yet displacement due to armed conflict is not the only problem Filipino youngsters are facing today, according to a new report titled “Stolen Childhoods” by international aid agency Save the Children, which it recently released to commemorate International Children’s Day.

The report features the End of Childhood Index, which identifies the best and worst countries for children to have a safe, secure, and healthy childhood.

According to Save the Children, over 16,000 children all over the world die each day before reaching their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable or treatable causes.

Out of 172 countries, the Philippines ranks 96th in terms of the following criteria:
– child mortality,
– stunting,
– out-of-school children,
– child labor,
– early marriage,
– adolescent births,
– displacement by conflict, and
– child homicide.

According to the report, the Philippines is doing abysmally in terms of early marriage, with girls being “at least seven times more likely to be married if they are poor than if they come from the richest families”.

Child marriage
It added that child marriage generally tends to be more prevalent in rural than urban areas.

Child marriage has “devastating consequences” for girls.

For one, she is forced into adulthood and motherhood before she is physically and mentally ready, says the report.

“Child brides are often isolated, with their freedom curtailed. They frequently feel disempowered and deprived of their rights to health, education, and safety.”

In addition, they also face a greater risk of dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS, and suffering domestic violence.

In the Philippines, 62 births are estimated to occur per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19.

Stunted growth
Another disturbing statistic is the estimated 3.3 million stunted children in the Philippines, which ranks ninth in terms of prevalence. India has the worst incidence of stunting, at 48.2 million kids.

Stunting occurs when a child, from the time he or she is in the womb up to when he or she is two years old, is malnourished. Without the right nutrients, says Save the Children, he or she cannot grow properly and can become too short for his or her age.

Stunted children tend to perform poorly in school, leading them with fewer work or professional opportunities later on, the report says. They earn less, and the cycle of poverty continues, with their own children lacking healthcare and access to proper nutrition.

The report also highlights the relatively large under-five mortality rate, which is 28 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Childhood mortality
According to Save the Children, over 16,000 children all over the world die each day before reaching their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable or treatable causes.

These include “lack of universal health coverage, inadequate diets, and unsafe water… birth complications and newborn infections.”

More and more children are also living in countries affected by conflict. “They face nearly twice the risk of dying before their fifth birthday as (compared to) children in non-fragile contexts.”

The report notes that most of the children who die before reaching five years old are from sub-Saharan Africa, where basic medical care is unavailable, too far, or too expensive.

“In Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Somalia, more than ten percent of children do not live to see their fifth birthday. That’s at least 40 times the rate found in Finland, Japan, Norway, and Singapore, where less than 0.3 percent of children die before age five,” Save the Children says.

The organization urges governments ensure that:

1. No child dies from preventable or treatable causes;
2. No child is robbed of a future due to malnutrition;
3. All children have access to quality education;
4. No child is robbed of childhood due to marriage or pregnancy; and
5. No young life is cut short due to violence or forced labor.

Read the full report —> in PDF format here.