The State of the World's Children 2005 - Childhood under threat

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Childhood means more than just the time between birth and the attainment of adulthood. It refers to the state and condition of a child's life: to the quality of those years. As the most widely endorsed human rights treaty in history, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and ratified by all but two countries, in effect represents a global consensus on the terms of childhood. Although there is not absolute agreement on the interpretation of each and every provision of the Convention, there is substantial common ground on what the standards of childhood should be. The State of the World’s Children 2005 makes clear that, for nearly half of the two billion children in the real world, childhood is starkly and brutally different from the ideal we all aspire to. Poverty denies children their dignity, endangers their lives and limits their potential. Conflict and violence rob them of a secure family life, betray their trust and their hope. HIV/AIDS kills their parents, their teachers, their doctors and nurses. It also kills them. These are not the only factors that undermine childhood, but they are certainly among the most significant, with profoundly damaging effects on a child’s chances of survival and development after the early years of life. The harm they cause lingers well beyond the years of childhood, increasing the likelihood that the next generation will be affected by the same threats. Moreover, as damaging as the major threats are by themselves, when two or even three coincide, the impact on children’s lives is devastating.

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