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Forced Displacement of Children in the Italian Context

(6 December 2017) The plight of many unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) arriving in Italy through Central Mediterranean routes – currently the most dangerous access corridor to Europe – was recently discussed at an Innocenti Seminar “Forced Displacement of Children in the Italian Context.” The seminar showcased data, policy and media research to ignite discussion, explore linkages and consider potential future work in this area. UNICEF Innocenti conducts research on children affected by forced displacement to help explain intricate dynamics not captured by more general research.An 18 year old youth texting his family in Cote D'Ivoire at a cafe in Palermo, Sicily. Recent Data and trendsDr Alexandra Ricard-Guay, principal investigator for the EU project DemandAT researching interconnections between trafficking and smuggling of migrants, gave an overview of the legal framework and policy response on child migration and child trafficking in Italy underling knowledge  gaps and implications on the migration discourse .In her presentation, Ricard-Guay reported on the latest data available on child migration to Italy, a phenomenon which has more recently attracted the attention of politicians due to the increased numbers of children arriving by sea since 2011. “The exponential increase of unaccompanied children arriving in Italy has led to a tripling of capacity in the Italian reception system in the last 5 years. However, despite visibility there are still misbeliefs around the data and facts surrounding migrant children,” said Richard-Guay.Harrowing Journeys: Children and youth on the move across the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of trafficking and exploitation ( According to the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the total number of unaccompanied children in Italy has doubled since 2015 reaching 18,486 in August 2017. Sicily currently hosts over 43 per cent of these children. The number of unaccompanied children dropping out of reception facilities who become untraceable is remarkable. It is estimated that in 2017 there were 5,433 untraceable children.According to a recent assessment of children on the move in Italy conducted by the REACH Initiative in collaboration with UNICEF, lack of knowledge about the asylum system, misinformation, bad conditions in the reception facilities, mistrust, are among the reasons given by children leaving the reception facilities. Nonetheless the discourse around missing children remains mostly inside a ‘trafficking frame,’ “a politically convenient narrative that divert attention from other critical causes of disappearance,” as Ricard-Guay underlined.“The Zampa law, the first comprehensive legal framework for unaccompanied children,” she continued, “represents a significant policy response toward greater protection of unaccompanied  minors, but there are persisting challenges that still require attention from the legislator”.Ricard-Guay identified gender disaggregated data as one of the topical areas that need further qualitative investigation. According to the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policies 93 per cent of children are boys between 15-17 years old, mainly from Gambia, Nigeria, Guinea and Egypt. Girls represent around 7 per cent with Nigeria as the main country of origin (48 per cent) followed by Eritrea (14 per cent) and Somalia (6 per cent). About age, girls are slightly younger, between 7 and 14 years old. Media Coverage AnalysisThe narrative about migrant children as portrayed in the media was analysed by Paola Barretta and Giuseppe Milazzo, associate researchers at the Osservatorio of Pavia, the main data source on media monitoring for UNHCR Italy. Milazzo’s research shows that news on migrants is mainly associated with crimes and safety (24 per cent) and terrorism (6 per cent), and that despite a drop in news coverage of migration issues since 2015 community fear towards migrants grew reaching 46 per cent of interviewees in a September 2017 poll.According to Milazzo, children are quite invisible in media coverage.of migration issues but are sometimes used as symbols to generate empathy. Only 3 per cent of all news on migration covers child migrants.“Although the frames of the news regarding child migrants are in general positive” concluded Milazzo” there are 4 alarming instances that are becoming recurrent and need further investigation. Those include age, [i.e.] child migrants are not children; school, [i.e]. child migrants are invading our schools; costs, [i.e.] child migrants represent a huge cost; and crime, [i.e.] child migrants are a threat to our personal safety”.Critical role of foster families and guardiansIolanda Genovese, Innocenti research officer – migration programme, drew on her experience  working for Accoglierete, a non-government association of volunteer guardians in Siracusa, and revealed the importance of civil society response to institutional gaps in putting protection and integration policy into practice. She highlighted challenges of a child turning 18 and transitioning from a supported to unsupported status in a day, and how crucial it is to empower and accompany him through adulthood.She underlined how local engagement can lead to attitudinal change in people perceptions about the migration phenomenon, from a mass-media driven negative perception towards a narratives that looks at the human before the “migrant”. The seminar was jointly organised by Dr Bina D’Costa, Migration programme, Dr Emanuela Bianchera, Knowledge Management and Dr. Patrizia Faustini, Communications. For further information go to the Children and Migration research page. 
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Economics of inequality and conflict

(1 December 2017) Students recently gathered for the opening lecture in the University of Florence School of Economics and Management’s new lecture series on development economics, given by Jose Cuesta Chief of social and economic policy at UNICEF Innocenti.Cuesta’s lecture, titled Inequality, Redistribution and Conflict, presented an economic perspective on conflict and inequality, through examination of economic models influencing current events. The presentation zoomed-in on recent examples of civil conflict in Honduras and Zimbabwe, looking at the effect of inequality on the costs of war and how these variables may have affected political stability.Mothers and children near the coast shortly after arriving in Cox's Bazar District, Bangladesh. The three spent seven days on a bank of the Naf River in Myanmar before making the crossing aboard a fishing boat.Research on the link between inequality and conflict is important for UNICEF – a leading humanitarian response agency in countries affected by conflict.  “Understanding how conflict emerges and pervades is critical for our work, both in terms of contextualizing our programming and ensuring it contributes to solutions,” said Cuesta. Equity, for example, is one cross-cutting pillar that is intimately related to conflict, he added.In his lecture, Cuesta presented economic models that attempt to measure the role of inequality as a contributing variable in predicting a conflict. Some models, he emphasized, could be tailored to work for very specific situations, but measuring inequality as well as factoring in the many different cultural contexts that exist for different countries and states, has proven to be a challenge for developing universal economic models for conflict. Inequality, Redistribution and Conflict from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti Cuesta noted, “a model that can be only used for one country is not a very useful model. The economic model of conflict provides a set of principles that are useful to understand certain dynamics of conflict – but not all... we can come up with variables with more resolution, including those of culture, social norms, perceptions and attitude. That would require more precise instruments of data collection. And then we need to better explain the results our analytics provide.”There are several ways in which poverty or inequality can affect conflict, according to Cuesta. “A researcher cannot pick up the argument that best suits his or her theory. Here, the role of mixed methods is a good alternative,” he said. For example, looking at how conditions of unequal voice and participation can potentially both reduce and accelerate conflict (by either squelching opposition or fueling grievances) is an area where qualitative research could be used to determine the chances a given country has of experiencing civil war. More granular and country specific work is needed, he stressed, in order to create better models.Jose Cuesta, UNICEF Innocenti's Chief of Social and Economic Policy, delivering his lecture titled 'Inequality Redistribution and Conflict' to open a new lecture series on development economics at the University of Florence, School of Economics and Management. [READ about UNICEF Innocenti’s emerging research initiative to analyse the effects of conflict and crisis on adolescent health]Improving our ability to measure inequality is also crucial for better research. “As it is the case to measure poverty, or child wellbeing, in order to measure inequality, we first need more frequent data. Waiting 5 or 10 years to have a chance to measure is completely inadequate,” Cuesta said. “In fact, we know much more of the ultra-poor than the ultra-rich. A possible solution to this problem is to gain more anonymous access to tax records. When this access is allowed, the payoffs are huge,” he added, referencing the World Wealth and Income Database, which has greatly improved the diagnostics of inequality around the world.
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National World Children's Day 2017 celebration held at Istituto degli Innocenti

(21 November 2017) A national celebration of World Children's Day (20 November) for Italy was held at Istituto degli Innocenti under the title Bambini, d(i)ritti verso il futuro, which means roughly "Children Stand Up for Their Rights." The event was attended by Italy's national Minister for Constitutional Reforms and Equal Opportunity, Maria Elena Boschi, together with Tuscan Regiona and Florence officials, senior management of the Istituto degli Innocenti, Sarah Cook, Director of UNICEF Innocenti and school children from several Florence schools.
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Violent discipline, sexual abuse and homicides stalk millions of children worldwide

(2 November 2017) Staggering numbers of children – some as young as 12 months old – are experiencing violence, often by those entrusted to take care of them, UNICEF said in a new report released today. “The harm inflicted on children around the world is truly worrying,” said UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams. “Babies slapped in the face; girls and boys forced into sexual acts; adolescents murdered in their communities – violence against children spares no one and knows no boundaries.”A 15 year old, holds her doll inside her house at North Jakarta Indonesia. During the night she sings at a cafe in a red light district in the capital. A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents (download at right or below) uses the very latest data to show that children experience violence across all stages of childhood and in all settings:Violence against young children in their homes:Three-quarters of the world’s 2- to 4-year-old children – around 300 million – experience psychological aggression and/or physical punishment by their caregivers at home;Around 6 in 10 one year olds in 30 countries with available data are subjected to violent discipline on a regular basis. Nearly a quarter of one-year-olds are physically shaken as punishment and nearly 1 in 10 are hit or slapped on the face, head or ears.Worldwide, 1 in 4 children under age five – 176 million – are living with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence.Sexual violence against girls and boys:Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts in their lifetime. Only 1 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual violence said they reached out for professional help. In the 28 countries with data, 90 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced forced sex, on average, said the perpetrator of the first incident was known to them. Data from six countries reveals friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of sexual violence against adolescent boys. Violent deaths among adolescents:Globally, every 7 minutes an adolescent is killed by an act of violence.In the United States, non-Hispanic black boys aged 10 to 19 years old are almost 19 times more likely to be murdered than non-Hispanic white boys of the same age. If the homicide rate among non-Hispanic black adolescent boys is applied nationwide, the United States would be one of the top ten most deadly countries in the world. In 2015, the risk of being killed by homicide for a non-Hispanic black adolescent boy in the United States was the same as the risk of being killed due to collective violence for an adolescent boy living in war-torn South Sudan.Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region where adolescent homicide rates have increased; nearly half of all homicides among adolescents globally occurred in this region in 2015.Violence in schools:Half the population of school-age children – 732 million – live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited. Three-quarters of documented school shootings that have taken place over the past 25 years occurred in the United States.A 10 year old boy whose father and five uncles were killed in gang violence in Honduras UNICEF Innocenti is conducting an ongoing multi-country study on the drivers of violence affecting children in Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe. One of the key emerging findings is that violence affecting children should not be understood as an interaction between a child and another person, but through the socio-ecology of violence with complex, shifting layers of exposure to violence in all its forms.UNICEF prioritises efforts to end violence across all its work, including supporting government efforts to improve services for children affected by violence, developing policies and legislation that protect children, and helping communities, parents and children to prevent violence through practical programmes like parenting courses and actions against domestic violence. To end violence against children, UNICEF is calling for governments to take urgent action and support the INSPIRE guidance which has been agreed and promoted by WHO, UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, including:Adopting well-coordinated national action plans to end violence against children – incorporating education, social welfare, justice and health systems, as well as communities and children themselves.Changing behaviours of adults and addressing factors that contribute to violence against children, including economic and social inequities, social and cultural norms that condone violence, inadequate policies and legislation, insufficient services for victims, and limited investments in effective systems to prevent and respond to violence. Focussing national policies on minimizing violent behaviour, reducing inequalities, and limiting access to firearms and other weapons. Building social service systems and training social workers to provide referrals, counselling and therapeutic services for children who have experienced violence. Educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognise violence in all its many forms and empowering them to speak out and report violence safely. Collecting better disaggregated data on violence against children and tracking progress through robust monitoring and evaluation.For more information about the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, please go to article was adapted from a story forst published on
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