Throughout the world, tens of millions of children are victims of exploitation, abuse and violence. Millions are trafficked and forced to work in appalling conditions, in prostitution rings and sweatshops.
In some parts of the world, slavery still exists, with 5.7 million children trapped in forced and bonded labour.
An estimated 130 million women and girls alive today have suffered violence in the form of genital mutilation/cutting. These abuses are a manifestation of the world’s systematic failure to protect those who are most defenceless.
The hazards faced by millions of children every day pose a serious threat to their education, health, self-respect and future prospects, and can put their lives in danger.
Abuse and exploitation can have a devastating effect on an individual child. Yet little is known about the effect that child exploitation can exert upon a society’s social and economic development.
Exploitation can keep a child out of school, in poor health and subject to physical and psychological abuse, it robs children of their chance to fulfil their potential.
Protection from these dangers is a universal right of every child, as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and UNICEF places a high priority on protecting children from all forms of violence and abuse.