Foreign Policy Blogs

Simple Statistics

When you begin to research the issues that affect our children world wide you never get over the shock of the numbers. The stories of so many never leave your mind, and even as these numbers grow you seem to never loose that one thought in your mind, "how is this possible?" I will, and can never imagine being able to understand how someone could hurt another human being, especially a child. But then again our world is far from perfect.

I wanted to give you some general information on statistics that are vital to understanding international children's rights, and the issues that are so often spiraling out of control. However, one can find that these statistics or numbers are often nothing more than a guess. As the true number of child soldiers, victims of trafficking, and other horrid crimes committed against children are only the tip of the ice berg. I will do my best to give you a fair indicator of the information and resources available. I will not cover all the areas in this article, as I will touch much deeper on the statistics of certain areas only when covering that topic later in the year. As just mentioning a topic is far too vague, or the statistics and scenarios vary too much when looking at individual countries in comparison with a world figure. That said, I wanted to give you an idea on the number of children currently suffering needlessly each day.

Please note sources vary on all the issues listed below:

Child Trafficking – There are about 1.5 million children trafficked around the world each year. Approximately 50,000 trafficked persons enter the US each year, mostly woman and children, however some sources claim this number is as low as 18,000.

Child Soldiers – Human Rights Watch put estimates around 200,000 – 300,000 child soldier's world wide. Children, many as young as five to seven, fight in around the world as we speak. According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children, some as young as nine, were estimated to be involved in armed conflict in mid 2004.

Child Labor – According to the ILO in 2000 there where some 352 million children ages 5-17 participating in some form of labor, this includes permitted activity and illegal activities. Of these children 171 million where working in hazardous conditions, and most of those children where under the age of 15.

Female Genital Mutilation- According to the World Heath Organization (WHO) the number of girls who have been subject to FGM is "estimated at between 100 and 140 million" and that each year another 2 million are at risk.

Child Molestation – "It is estimated that at least two out of every ten girls and one out of every ten boys are sexually abused by the end of their 13th year", according to The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute

Child Porn – It is estimated that 100,000 child porn sites, a number that is only growing, are currently active on the internet today. According to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children "83% had pornographic material that involved children between ages of 6 and 12; 39% had material involving children between ages 3 and 5; and 19% had images of infants or toddlers under age 3."

Children and Poverty – World wide it is millions upon millions of children live in poverty everyday, this is not just a lack of food, but clean drinking water, sanitation and education. According to UNICEF the number is over a billion (Childhood Under Threat – Poverty). According to the National Center for Children and Poverty 39% of American children live in low income families.

Children and Violent Crime – The following graph about domestic crime victims was found at the Bureau of Justice Statistics:


Please note violent crimes included are homicide, rape, robbery, and both simple and aggravated assault.

What is most frightening about the graph above isn't just that the age of victims who are victims of the most violent crimes, but that one can only imagine how the graph would look if you added in victims under the age of 12. The other frightening thought is that this only illustrates the rate of crime against young victims in the United States, one can only imagine the sheer shock of seeing what a war torn undeveloped country looks like.

Child Mortality Rate


Additional Resources and Information

State of the World's Children 2007

I wanted to get some stats from Interpol, but alas I am not a registered police officer so I am not able to, but if you happen to know someone who is take a look.

CIA World Fact Book has country specific information

US Government Child Statistics has tons for resources and direct contacts on the site. They also have some international resources.

Child Info – UNICEF has a lot of graphs and charts on various issues related to children.

ILO Fact sheets on Child Labor

UNICEF Monitoring and Statistics is really quite cool as you can go on the site and create and export specific stats that you are looking for. Of course they have substantial statistics on anything related to children and it is a superb resource.

The Child Protection Table shows detailed information by country, male vs. female and urban vs. rural on issues such as, Child Labor, Child Marriages, Birth Registration and Female Genital Mutilation. Many of these figures will shock and surprise you, especially when you see the number of countries involved in child labor and the percentages of girls who face genital mutilation in a handful of countries.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict