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The lack of care and protection facing children is a global crisis with billions of children experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation, and many millions growing up outside of families, on the streets or in harmful institutional care.

This lack of adequate care and protection is commonly the result of inequalities. Gender norms make girls especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, early marriage and domestic work, and boys to hazardous child labour and detention. Children with disabilities, from ethnic minorities or living with or affected by HIV are more likely than their peers to suffer from a loss of care and protection, and income inequalities increase exposure to child labour and institutionalisation. Children without adequate care and protection are commonly stigmatised, and have inequitable access to education, health, social protection and justice.

Combined with the long lasting impacts of neglect, abuse and institutionalisation, this lack of access to basic services severely diminishes life chances, creating a spiral of disadvantage. In order to break this spiral, a three-pronged strategy is required which sees: reductions in social and economic inequalities that have a major impact on children’s care and protection; increased investments in strong and equitable national child protection systems and efforts to address the stigma and discrimination faced by children without adequate care and protection.

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