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UNICEF: More investment in adolescents needed

UNICEF: More investment in adolescents needed

More money and attention for the world's 1.2 billion adolescents _ especially girls _ could help rescue teenagers from a lifetime of poverty, ignorance, sexual inequality, and violence, UNICEF says in a new report released Friday.
The U.N. children's agency says that big investments made by countries over the past two decades have helped save the lives of untold numbers of boys and girls up to age 10.
The mortality rate for children 5 and younger has dropped by a third and in most regions girls are now almost as likely as boys to attend primary school, says the UNICEF report. Millions of youngsters have benefited from improved access to safe drinking water and routine vaccinations.
But the picture shifts when children hit adolescence, with more than 70 million teenagers of secondary school age not going to classes, with girls lagging behind boys in attendance.
"And we also shouldn't forget about the adolescent boys," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson told a news conference. "They are more likely to join gangs or be recruited to join armed groups in conflict situations."
Older children _ especially the 88 percent of adolescents living in developing countries _ also are more at risk for exploitation, abuse and violence, the report says. It notes that while infant mortality rates in Brazil improved dramatically between 1998 and 2008, with the lives of 26,000 children under 1 year saved, about 81,000 adolescents in the country were murdered.
"Adolescence is not only a time of vulnerability, it is also an age of opportunity," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake wrote in the report's foreword. "This is especially true when it comes to adolescent girls."
"We know that the more education a girl receives, the more likely she is to postpone marriage and motherhood _ and the more likely it is that her children will be healthier and better educated," Lake added.
"By giving all young people the tools they need to improve their own lives, and by engaging them in efforts to improve their communities, we are investing in the strength of their societies," he noted.
The report says countries could start by improving the collection and analysis of data specifically about adolescents, breaking out information by age, sex, income level, ethnicity and religion.
More investment is needed in education and training so adolescents have tools to lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their national economies, it says. Additional opportunities for teenagers to participate in public life and voice their opinions are needed, whether through youth forums, community service or online activism.
The report says countries also should put more money into laws, policies and programs to better protect adolescent rights, especially those tackling poverty and inequality.


Updated : 2021-10-16 17:52 GMT+08:00