Every child has a right to a childhood - the right to play, the right to grow, the right to be heard and the right to be protected from harm. But for many children, this is far from a reality. They come into this world innocent, trusting and full hope, but instead they are abused, exploited or forgotten – deprived of their childhood and basic human rights.

Children all over the world are enduring unimaginable hardship on a daily basis, with girls often being particularly vulnerable. From the very beginning, the odds are stacked against these children. Inadequate maternal health care in many countries means some do not even make it past early infancy. And even if they do, they may go hungry, suffer from malnutrition or have their most basic needs overlooked.

In many cases children are forced to work in hazardous conditions which can be detrimental to their physical and mental development. This is often at the expense of their education, and consequently, their dreams for the future, keeping them and their families locked in a cycle of poverty.

So what is the answer? While addressing poverty can reduce the risk of children being exposed to abuse, neglect and exploitation, is this the whole story? Is a focus on poverty alleviation enough? Or does the protection of children’s rights require a more targeted or holistic response?

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