Children victims of discrimination, racism worldwide

Naz Asghar

New Delhi: Children across the globe are suffering from discrimination and racism, according to a UNICEF report released ahead of the World Children’s Day .

Children are discriminated against on grounds of their ethnicity, language and religion, says the report.

These discrimination have a devastating effect on their health and access to education and fair and equal justice system.

“Systemic racism and discrimination put children at risk of deprivation and exclusion that can last a lifetime,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Catherine Russell. “This hurts us all. Protecting the rights of every child – whoever they are, wherever they come from – is the surest way to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world for everyone.”

The report shows that children from marginalized ethnic, language and religious groups, from 22 low and middle-income countries which were analysed, lag far behind their peers in reading skills.

On average, students aged seven to 14 from the most advantaged group are more than twice as likely to have foundational reading skills than those from the least advantaged group.

An analysis of data on the level of children registered at birth – a prerequisite for access to basic rights – found significant disparities among children of different religious and ethnic groups.

For example, in Lao PDR, 59 per cent of children under five in the minority Mon-Khmer ethnic group, have their births registered, compared to 80 per cent among the Lao-Tai ethnic group.

Discrimination and exclusion deepen intergenerational deprivation and poverty, and result in poorer health, nutrition and learning outcomes for children, a higher likelihood of incarceration, higher rates of pregnancy among adolescent girls, and lower employment rates and earnings in adulthood.

While COVID-19 exposed deep injustices and discrimination across the world, and the impacts of climate change and conflict continue to reveal inequities in many countries, the report highlights how discrimination and exclusion have long persisted for millions of children from ethnic and minority groups, including access to immunization, water and sanitation services, and a fair justice system.

For example, in disciplinary policies in the United States, Black children are almost four times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than white children, and more than twice as likely to face school-related arrests, the report notes.

The report also highlights how children and young people are feeling the burden of discrimination in their everyday lives. A new U-Report poll generating more than 407,000 responses found that almost two thirds feel discrimination is common in their environments, while almost half feel discrimination had impacted their lives or that of someone they know in a significant manner.

World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. The occasion has this year has been used to release this special report as part of efforts to sensitise the socities against the plight of children resulting from discrimination and racsims.

November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Since 1990, World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children’s rights.

—INDIA NEWS  STREAM

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