UNICEF estimates that hundreds of millions of children worldwide suffer from severe exploitation and discrimination. Millions of children disappear when trafficked within their own country and across international boundaries to work under inhumane conditions. Not only do these children endure daily abuse but they are excluded from healthcare, school, and other essential services needed for growth and survival. They become a generation of Invisible Children.
The world's most vulnerable and invisible children grow up beyond the reach of a formal identity, parental care, and fundamental services and protection. They are invisible in areas from public debate, legislation, statistics, and news stories.
Every year over 50 million children in the developing world go unregistered. These children do not have a formal identity. Without proper registration and identity, these children are not guaranteed basic services such as a formal education, and healthcare, and are not even recognized as citizens in their own countries.
Other children around the world, such as street children, are in plain site but also do not have access to fundamental services and protections. Children who are denied fundamental services are more prone to exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.
As UNICEF explains:
"Governments, families and communities must do more to prevent abuse and exploitation from happening in the first place and to protect children who fall victim to abuse. Laws that hold perpetrators of crimes against children accountable must be implemented and vigorously enforced; attitudes, traditions and practices that are harmful to children must be challenged; and children themselves must get the help, information, and life skills they need..."
The more governments and people work to make these invisible children visible in both the national and international community, the greater the chance that a new generation of invisible children will escape the harsh destines of their predecessors. It's time to open our eyes to a generation of children that have been lost and forgotten.
For more information go to www.unicef.org/sowc06/intro.html