‘Put vulnerable children at heart of development plans’

Indian poor childrenNew Delhi: With a rising number of children worldwide experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation, a group of experts and NGOs have come together to demand that rights of most vulnerable children be placed at the heart of plans for new global development goals.

“The lack of protection and care for vulnerable children is a global crisis with millions of children growing up outside families, experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation,” said Rita Panicker founder of Butterflies and Indian member of ‘Family for Every Child’ group which held a high-level meeting here Monday.

The number of children at risk is rising, said the experts. For example, 150 million girls and 73 million boys are engaged in extremely harmful forms of work.

They noted that India has made important strides towards introducing a wide range of services to strengthen the care of children within safe, permanent families but it was acknowledged at the meeting that the country still has a long way to go yet.

In India, just 0.035 percent of total central government expenditure is devoted to child protection, a notable underspend considering the scale of child protection issues facing the large country which has 11 million street children, the world’s highest number, and 28 million working children under the age of 14.

“It is unfortunate that India has the largest number of children who are vulnerable and victims of violence and exploitation. It is only through education and continuous efforts to provide opportunities can better protection, greater confidence and self esteem be attained,” said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Shantha Sinha.

The high-level meeting came amid accelerating global discussions on replacements for the Millennium Development Goals, the global development targets that expire in 2015.

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