Invisible Children

"There are more than 7 billion people in the world, and more than 2.2 billion of them are children. ...More than one billion of those children live in poverty and half of these live in extreme deprivation. They constitute, then, half a billion young people under the age of 18 whose very lives have been truncated and put in daily peril. "  - Invisible Children

The silos into which we tend to place these children and young people may satisfy our need for organization, but they hinder our understanding of the interrelated complexities of the issues impacting their lives. Accordingly, numbers cited to quantify the extent of any issue are necessarily inaccurate to some degree. There is, quite simply, too much overlap. Street-connected children who are orphans and working in hazardous labor situations can be triple-counted in these statistics. A young girl who has no access to education and is subsequently sold by her parents to a trafficker can be double-counted. Migrant children can appear on the statistical records of more than one place. This is not, in any way, to minimize the impact of these numbers, for without question and in any evaluation, the numbers are vast. But we do well to understand that, as vast as they are, they may not be pure.  We must view their situations not in terms of the numbers they represent but as emanations of the immense personal, human, and societal costs they exact.

Invisibility by the Numbers

[1] UNICEF, 2013.  Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequities and trends in birth registration, p. 6, ,
[2] The UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), 2013. Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2013, UNICEF, New York, p. 1,
[4], p.3.
[6] Orla Ryan, “FT Seasonal Appeal helps thousands of vulnerable children,” Financial Times, November 27, 2012.
[8] Covell, Katherine and Becker, Jo (2011).  Five Years On: A Global Update on Violence Against Children, NGO Advisory Council for Follow-up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children, p. 24; and
[9] UNHCR. (2011). UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2011. 8. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from UNHCR:
[10] UNICEF. (2013). Orphan Estimates . New York: UNICEF.
[12] BBC, Children of Conflict: Child Soldiers page:
[13] UNICEF, 2007., ‘Children in Detention: Calculating global estimates for Juvenile Justice Indicators 2 and 3’, Programme Division, UNICEF, New York,.  Cited in: UNICEF, 2009.  Progress for Children: A report card on child protection, Report No. 8, UNICEF, New York, p. 20.
[14] World Health Organization, Geneva, 2004.
[17] Covell, Katherine and Becker, Jo (2011).  Five Years On: A Global Update on Violence Against Children, NGO Advisory Council for Follow-up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children, p. 24.
[20] UNICEF, “Progress for Children: A Report Card on Adolescents,” April 2012, pp. 13-14:[1] “The Lost Generation,” The Economist, May 1, 2013;; and



Unregistered children under-five (1)
Under-five deaths annually (2)
Stunted or chronically malnourished children (3)
Children living in extreme poverty (4)
Street-connected children (5)
Children in hazardous or exploitative labor (6)
Children trafficked annually (7)
International migrant  children (8)
Refugee and internally displaced children (9)
Children orphaned or living in orphanages (10)
Children living with HIV/AIDS (11)
Children involved in armed conflict (12)
Incarcerated children (13)
Children who are victims of rape or sexual violence (14)
Girls at risk for Female Genital Mutilation (15)
Girls giving birth annually (16)
Girls exposed to domestic violence (17)
Children living with a physical or mental disability (18)
Primary school-aged children not in school (19)
Illiterate youth (20)
Unemployed youth (21)