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Racism and discrimination hit millions of children around world

Discrimination children; Racism and discrimination against children based on their ethnic origin, language and religion continue

By Ground report
New Update
"Children's rights around the world are in sharp decline": UN

Racism and discrimination against children based on their ethnic origin, language and religion continue to be widespread in many countries around the world, a UNICEF study released on the occasion of World Children's Day on November 20 showed.

Catherine Russell, director general of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), said when presenting the report that "on World Children's Day, and every day, all boys and girls have the right to feel included, receive protection and have the same opportunities to develop their full potential”.

The document, “Denial of Rights: The Effects of Discrimination on Children,” shows how racism and discrimination affect education, health, and access to birth registration and a fair and just justice system.

It also highlights the great disparities that exist between ethnic groups and minorities, not only in countries privileged by their wealth but also in many of the poor and developing nations.

Among its findings, the report reveals that boys and girls, ages seven to 14 and from marginalized ethnolinguistic and religious groups in 22 low- and middle-income countries, lag far behind the rest in reading skills.

For example, in the Central African Republic, the Gambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, the reading skills of the most advantaged ethnic group quadruple those of the most disadvantaged ethnic group, and double in countries such as Bangladesh, Macedonia, Mongolia, Suriname or Vietnam.

Similar differences were found when the cases of the most and least favoured linguistic and religious groups in the countries studied were analyzed.

An analysis of data on the number of girls and boys registered at birth, a prerequisite for access to basic rights, revealed significant disparities between different religious and ethnic groups.

Thus, in Laos the birth of 59% of children under five years of age of the minority Mon-Khmer ethnic group is registered, compared to 80% of those of the Lao-Tai ethnic group. In Zimbabwe, children from Christian families had a higher rate of such registrations than children from families of traditional religions or no religion.

The 12 million Roma are the largest ethnic minority group in Europe, distributed in many countries, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, and their children are among the most discriminated against, with high poverty rates, reduced job prospects and little support and access to social services.

They also found high dropout rates, six per cent in some countries and more than 20 per cent in Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Montenegro. Added to this situation is the increase in child marriages, which limits educational opportunities, especially for girls.

Unicef ​​shows that also in terms of health, such as access to vaccines and water and sanitation services, discrimination and exclusion have persisted for millions of children from ethnic and minority groups.

A study in 64 countries found that vaccination rates for children belonging to ethnic minority groups were lower by more than half, with differences of 50 percentage points or more observed in five countries.

In terms of disciplinary policies, the report found that in the United States, black children and youth are nearly four times as likely as white children to be temporarily expelled from school, and more than twice as likely to be arrested for incidents that occur at school.

In the UK, children from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups are overrepresented at almost every level of the country's criminal justice system. In England and Wales, black children are four times more likely to be arrested than white children.

The analysis insists that discrimination and exclusion exacerbate deprivation and intergenerational poverty, and have serious consequences for children's health, nutrition and education.

Additionally, children who experience discrimination and exclusion are more likely to be incarcerated, have higher rates of teen pregnancy, earn less income, and have fewer employment opportunities as adults.

According to a survey by Unicef's U-Report mechanism, which collected the opinions of 407,000 people, almost two-thirds of them perceive discrimination as something common in their environment, and almost half believe that these practices have had a significant impact on their lives.

“Suffering exclusion and discrimination during childhood can leave scars for life. And we all have the power to fight discrimination against children – in our countries, communities, schools, homes and in our own hearts,” Russell concluded.

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