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One third of world’s children not protected from violence, survey finds

Forced labor, violence and lack of education continue to affect children on 25th anniversary of children's rights treaty

As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, one third of children around the world say that adults fail to protect them from violence, according to a report released Thursday.

ChildFund International, a U.S.-based global consortium of nonprofits dedicated to child development, interviewed more than 6,000 children aged 10 to 12 in 44 countries across five continents for a survey titled “Small Voices, Big Dreams.”

The report found that the primary dangers to children are threefold: the threat of violence in conflict, on the street or at home; lack of access to education; and the practice of forced labor.

“Children are not being protected because many children die in suicide bombs, and many children are doing heavy work in workshops and brick factories which harm their health,” 12-year-old Sahar from Afghanistan said in the report.

ChildFund International’s communications director Betsy Edwards said the number of children that reported minors were forced to work in dangerous conditions was “shocking”

Sixty-five percent of children surveyed in developing countries said kids are only sometimes, rarely or never protected from doing harmful work.

“While much progress has been made, it is abundantly clear that we still have a long way to go,” Anne Lynam Godard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, said in a statement.

Of the children surveyed, 2,405 live in developed countries, while 3,635 reside in ones still developing.

As the United Nations headquarters in New York marked the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Thursday, many chimed in on the plight of children.

“We must do more than celebrate,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement.

“Some 6.6 million children under 5 years of age died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes; when 168 million children aged 5 to 17 were engaged in child labor in 2012; when 11 percent of girls are married before they turn 15,” he added, calling for political will to invest in children’s well-being.

“Are children’s lives getting any better? The answer is yes,” wrote Jo Becker, the advocacy director of the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. But, she added, the progress is too slow and doesn’t include all children.

“The evidence shows that governments can make children’s lives better. Their commitments should extend not just to some children, but to every child,” she said.

The Convention of the Rights of the Child was signed on Universal Children’s Day on Nov. 20, 1989. It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, with 194 states and state entities having ratified it. It aims to establish standards for the protection and promotion of children’s human rights around the world, including civil, economic, political and cultural rights.

To date, only Somalia, South Sudan and the United States have failed to ratify the convention.

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