WiredGov Newswire (news from other organisations)
Unicef - Protracted conflict, the climate crisis, a rise in mental illness and online misinformation among biggest emerging threats to children
Protracted conflicts, the worsening climate crisis, a rising level of mental illness among young people, and online misinformation are some of the most concerning emerging global threats to children, UNICEF said yesterday in an open letter issued by the organization’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
In addition to existing threats to young people, such as access to education, poverty, inequality and discrimination, the inaugural letter warns of emerging threats to children’s rights, and outlines a path to stepping up efforts to address them. The letter is being issued as part of UNICEF’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of a Child – the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.
“And your generation, the children of today, are facing a new set of challenges and global shifts that were unimaginable to your parents,” writes Fore. “Our climate is changing beyond recognition. Inequality is deepening. Technology is transforming how we perceive the world. And more families are migrating than ever before. Childhood has changed, and we need to change our approaches along with it.”
The letter outlines eight growing challenges for the world’s children: prolonged conflicts; pollution and the climate crisis; a decline in mental health; mass migration and population movements; statelessness; future skills for future work; data rights and online privacy; and online misinformation.
On conflict, the letter notes that the number of countries experiencing conflict is the highest it has been since the adoption of the Child Rights Convention in 1989, with one in four children living in countries affected by violent fighting or disaster.
On climate change, the letter warns that children are already having to contend with rampant destruction to the planet and a global climate crisis that has the potential to undermine most of the gains made in child survival and development over the past 30 years. The rise in extreme weather patterns and toxic air, prolonged drought and flash floods are all part of this crisis, and are disproportionally affecting the poorest, most vulnerable children.
UNICEF is working to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis in countries across the world. For example, in Ethiopia, UNICEF has pioneered new technology to map groundwater, and is developing solutions for chronically water-scarce communities. In Malawi, UNICEF has developed a long-lasting, eco-friendly system using solar power to improve access to clean water for communities. Yet more must be done to slow down climate change altogether.
“Governments and business must work hand in hand to reduce fossil fuel consumption, develop cleaner agricultural, industrial and transport systems and invest in scaling renewable energy sources,” writes Fore.
The letter also expresses concern that the majority of children will grow up as natives of a digital environment saturated with online misinformation. For example, so-called ‘deep fake’ technology uses artificial intelligence techniques to create convincing fakes of audio and video content, relatively easily. The letter warns that an online environment where truth can become indistinguishable from fiction has the potential to totally undermine trust in institutions and information sources, and has been demonstrated to skew democratic debate, voter intentions, and sow doubt about other ethnic, religious or social groups.
The letter warns that online misinformation is already leaving children vulnerable to grooming, abuse, and other forms of exploitation; skewing democratic debate; and, in some communities, even prompting resurgence in deadly diseases due to distrust in vaccines fueled by online misinformation – the results of which could be the creation of an entire generation of citizens who do not trust anything. To respond to this challenge, UNICEF has been piloting media literacy programme, such as the Young Reporters programme in Montenegro, aimed at teaching young people about spotting misinformation online, how to fact check online content, and the roles and techniques of responsible journalism.
“We can no longer rest on the naïve assurance that truth has an innate upper hand against falsehood in the digital era, and so we must, as societies, build resilience against the daily deluge of falsity online,” writes Fore. “We should start by equipping young people with the ability to understand who and what they can trust online, so they can become active, engaged citizens.”
On mental health, the letter cautions that mental illness among adolescents has been on the rise in the years since the adoption of the CRC, and that depression is now among the leading causes of disability in the young. The letter urges that appropriate promotion, prevention and therapeutic treatment and rehabilitation for children and young people affected by mental health issues be prioritized, and that the stigma and taboo surrounding mental illness be challenged so that treatment can be sought and support provided.
Finally, the letter recognizes that children and young people have already created movements across the world in search of solutions to overcome the challenges they – and their peers – face, and calls for world leaders to follow their lead.
“Children and young people of today are taking the lead on demanding urgent action, and empowering yourselves to learn about, and shape the world around you,” writes Fore. “You are taking a stand now, and we are listening.”
For more information, please contact:
Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, firstname.lastname@example.org
Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.
For more information please visit unicef.org.uk
Latest News from
WiredGov Newswire (news from other organisations)
CBI responds to Bank of England quarterly monetary policy report06/08/2020 15:15:15
CBI have responded to Bank of England quarterly monetary policy report.
NHS Confederation - Additional funding will help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic06/08/2020 14:40:00
Darren Hughes, Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation responded to the further £800m announced yesterday for the Welsh NHS to continue to respond to the impact of COVID-19
CBI Scotland reacts to publication of Scottish Government official response to AGER report06/08/2020 14:05:00
CBI Scotland yesterday reacted to publication of Scottish Government official response to AGER report.
Parents, carers and disabled people at least twice as likely to face redundancy, warns Citizens Advice06/08/2020 13:40:00
Citizens Advice has found that parents, carers, disabled people whose disability has a large impact on their day-to-day life, and those who previously shielded, are at least twice as likely to face redundancy as the rest of the working population. This comes as demand for the charity’s advice on redundancy selection has increased almost seven-fold.
CIPD - Short-term COVID-19 related pay cuts for some FTSE 100 CEOs fail to address excessive bonus culture06/08/2020 12:40:00
Annual CIPD/High Pay Centre report also finds FTSE 100 CEOs paid average of almost 120 times the median earnings of full time workers in the UK and calls for RemCo reform
LGA - Creative industries can play a key role in the COVID-19 recovery06/08/2020 11:40:00
Councils across the country are backing the creative industries to help drive economic recovery in local areas, the Local Government Association and Creative Industries Federation set out yesterday.
HEPI - Call for a new approach on the affordability, regulation and cost of student accommodation06/08/2020 10:40:00
The Higher Education Policy Institute (www.hepi.ac.uk) has published a new report on the burgeoning student accommodation sector. Student Accommodation: The Facts (HEPI Analytical Paper 2) by Sarah Jones and Martin Blakey shows 1.2 million students rent their housing, split between university-provided accommodation (28%), private purpose-built student accommodation (27%) and shared student houses (45%).
CBI Scotland responds to limited Aberdeen lockdown06/08/2020 10:15:00
CBI Scotland yesterday responded to limited Aberdeen lockdown.
LGA responds to Children's Commissioner briefing06/08/2020 09:40:00
Cllr Teresa Heritage, Vice-Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, responded to a new briefing by the Children’s Commissioner setting out the key actions needed to ensure children are at the heart of planning for any future coronavirus lockdowns