One in Every Four Children Robbed of Their Childhoods, New Save the Children Report Reveals

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 31, 2017) — One quarter of the world’s children are being denied the opportunity to have the childhoods they deserve and grow to their full potential, a new report from Save the Children has revealed. Launched to coincide with International Children’s Day, June 1, “Stolen Childhoods” has found that at least 700 million children worldwide have had the promise of a full childhood brought to an early end. The reasons vary from extreme violence and conflict, often driving families from their homes; early marriage and pregnancy; child labor; poor health; malnutrition and food insecurity; and not having the chance to go to school.

The inaugural End of Childhood Report includes an index of 172 countries, ranking the best and worst places in the world for children to have a safe, secure and healthy childhood. Childhood is least threatened in Europe, with Norway, Slovenia, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden ranked at the top, respectively. Childhood is most threatened in West and Central Africa: Niger is ranked the lowest, followed by Angola, Mali, Central African Republic, and Somalia.

The U.S. ranks 36th, between Bosnia and Russia, well behind other developed nations, including Norway, France and the United Kingdom, and also lagging behind Portugal, Spain, Japan, Lithuania and Greece.

“All around the world, childhoods are at risk. Even here in the U.S., the most vulnerable children are being robbed of their chance to learn, grow, play and be safe,” said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children. “Save the Children is committed to ensuring that every last child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

To better understand the United States’ low country ranking, Save the Children also conducted a state-by-state analysis in its U.S. Complement to the End of Childhood Report, finding that childhood is most intact in New Hampshire, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont; while childhood is most threatened in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma, respectively.

The U.S. Complement ranked all 50 states on five key factors that can end childhood in America, including infant mortality rates, child homicide and suicide rates, adolescent birth rates, child food insecurity rates, and rates of children not graduating high school on time.

“Hundreds of millions of kids don’t go to school – 1 out of every 6 school-aged children – because they are forced to work, don’t have the resources they need, or simply because they are girls,” said Dr. Jill Biden, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Save the Children. “Without education, children will face a lifetime of obstacles, but with it, the possibilities are endless. This report has shown us just how many children are being left behind – now we must act to protect them.”

The End of Childhood Report and its U.S. Complement also found that:

Every day, more than 16,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday

About one quarter of all children under five suffer from malnutrition, which stunts growth physically and mentally

One in six school-aged children worldwide is currently out of school

Conflict has forced nearly one child in 80 from their homes

168 million children in the world are involved in child labor – 85 million in hazardous work – which is more than all children living in Europe

One girl under 15 is forced to marry every seven seconds

Every two seconds, a girl around the world gives birth

Every day, more than 200 boys and girls around the world are murdered

An estimated 750,000 U.S. children drop out before graduating high school each year

More than 541,000 U.S. children live in households with severe food insecurity and experience hunger regularly

Nearly 230,000 babies were born to girls aged 15 to 19 in the U.S. in 2015

In line with its Every Last Child Campaign, Save the Children is calling on governments to properly count, include and invest in all children, so they have access to essential services. The organization’s global call to action is to ensure that no child dies from preventable or treatable causes or is subjected to extreme violence; is robbed of a future as a result of malnutrition, early or forced marriage, early pregnancy, or forced labor; and that they have access to a quality education.

“In 2015, the world made a promise that by 2030, all children would be in school, protected, healthy and alive, regardless of their income, geography, gender or identity. This is not an impossible target – in fact, increasing childhood expectancy around the world is definitely within reach if we deliver on our commitments,” added Miles.

To download and read the full report, visit


Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.