Date Published: 30 May 2013
Children with disabilities and their communities need and deserve those children to be fully included
"Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole" according to a recent statement from the international childrens' organization UNICEF.
UNICEF's annual State of the World's Children report 2013 has been released today 30th May 2013. It argues that children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do.
"_ When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain."
In the cases of many children with disabilities, exclusion begins in the first days of life by the child's birth not being unregistered. As a result of the consequent lack of official recognition, they do not receive social services and legal protections that are crucial to their survival and prospects.
The report suggests ways in which societies can include children with disabilities. For example, it mentions that inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children while providing opportunities for children with disabilities to fulfil their ambitions. There is a strong argument that increased efforts to support integration of children with disabilities would help to tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.
"_ For children with disabilities to count, they must be counted ? at birth, at school and in life," said Mr. Lake.
The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities states that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school and that they are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. That is particularly so if they are out-of-sight or placed in institutions ? as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them.
The combined result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in the world. Children living in poverty are among the least likely to attend their local school or clinic but those who live in poverty and also have a disability are even less likely to do so.
Gender is a key factor, as girls with disabilities are less likely than boys to receive food and care.
"_ Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression," states the report, noting that multiple deprivations lead to even greater exclusion for many children with disabilities.
There is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families.
According to the report about one third of the world's countries have so far failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It urges governments to keep their promises to guarantee the equal rights of all their citizens ? including their most excluded and vulnerable children.
Although indications are that progress is being made toward the inclusion of children with disabilities, the progress is uneven. The State of the World's Children 2013 sets out an agenda for further action. In particular it urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities. It also calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care. The report includes recommendations for international agencies, stating that they should ensure that the advice and assistance they provide to countries is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The report emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them about the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them. It is argued that everyone can benefit when inclusive approaches include accessibility and universal design of environments to be used by all to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation.
"_ The path ahead is challenging," said Mr. Lake in Da Nang, Viet Nam, for the launch of the report. "But children do not accept unnecessary limits. Neither should we."
Further information is available at: http://www.unicef.org/sowc2013 (link working when last checked by IvyRose)