On Tuesday, UNICEF released its first-ever report on the challenges facing the world's 1.2 billion people ages 10-19, a group comprising 18 percent of the global population. "Progress for Children: A Report Card on Adolescents" was issued to coincide with this week's meeting of the UN Commission on Population Development.
Among the key findings of the report:
- Some 2.2 million people ages 10-19 are living with HIV, and most are unaware of their infection. Girls account for 1.3 million of adolescent HIV cases. Many HIV-positive adolescents contracted the virus at birth, while others were infected through unprotected sex or sharing needles.
- Adolescent girls in developing countries often marry and bear children at too young an age, hampering their educational opportunities. Approximately 16 million girls ages 15-19 give birth each year worldwide; 90 percent of births to adolescents occur within marriage. Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa have the highest proportion of teenage births.
- 1.4 million adolescents die from injuries related to childbirth complications, traffic accidents, suicide, AIDS, gang-related violence, and other causes.
- Though 90 percent of the world's children are enrolled in primary school, secondary school enrollment drops off dramatically; this is particularly true in developing nations in Africa and Asia. Worldwide, 71 million adolescents do not attend secondary school, and up to 127 million young people ages 15-24 are illiterate -- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.