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  • Authors: UNICEF

    Produced by: United Nations (UN) Children's Fund (UNICEF) (2005)

    The 2006 State of the World's Children report provides an assessment of the world's most vulnerable children, whose rights to a safe and healthy childhood are exceptionally difficult to protect. These children are growing up beyond the reach of development campaigns and are often invisible in everything from public debate and legislation, to statistics and news stories.

    The report argues that children in the following four circumstances are most likely to become invisible and forgotten:

    Children without a formal identity: over half of all births in the developing world (excluding China) go unregistered. They do not appear in official statistics and are not acknowledged as members of their society.

    .Without a registered identity, children are not guaranteed an education, good healthcare, and other basic services that impact their childhood and future.

    Children without parental care: millions of orphans, street children, and children in detention are growing up without the loving care and protection of their parents or a family environment. Children caught in these circumstances are often not treated as children at all.

    Children in adult roles: the report argues that children who are forced into adult roles too early miss crucial stages of childhood development.

    Children who are exploited: shut away by their abusers and held back from school and essential services, children who are the victims of exploitation are arguably among the most invisible. Their lives and numbers are virtually impossible to track.

    The report also asserts that children who live in "fragile states" - countries that are unable or unwilling to provide basic services for their children - are virtually invisible.

    The report argues that the world must go beyond current development efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable children are not left behind. Governments bear primary responsibility for reaching out to these children, and must step up their efforts in four key areas:

    .research, monitoring and reporting:

    .systems to record and report on the nature and extent of abuses against children are essential to reaching excluded and invisible children

    legislation: national laws must match international commitments to children, and legislation that fosters discrimination must be changed or abolished. Laws to prosecute those who harm children must be consistently enforced

    financing and capacity-building: child-focused budgets and the strengthening of institutions that serve children must complement laws and research

    programmes: reform is urgently required in many countries and communities to remove entry barriers for children who are excluded from essential services, for example, eliminating the requirement of a birth certificate to attend school.

    The report also outlines concrete actions that can be taken by civil society, the private sector, donors and the media to help prevent children from falling between the cracks.

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