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The orphan myth: Exposing the truth about orphanages

The classic dream of every child in an orphanage – played out in many Hollywood movies – is for a wholesome family to come along and adopt them. However, this narrative is based on a myth.

For most children living in an orphanage, their only dream is to go back home and live with their parents. That’s because the vast majority of children in orphanages – 80 to 90 percent – have at least one living parent.

A new report from UNICEF says that at least 2.7 million children live in orphanages globally. The truth is we do not know the exact number because many countries simply are not counting them. It could be ten times the UNICEF estimate.

In Indonesia alone there are estimated to be half a million children in orphanages, and 94 percent of these children have a living parent. This report by UNICEF raises the issue of children being counted and a need for more reliable data to drive decision making.

So why are so many children with parents living in an orphanage? The biggest single cause is poverty, followed by limited access to basic services, such as education and health care. Parents often give up their children thinking they will get better care in an orphanage.

Making matters worse, the living conditions in many orphanages are deficient and leave these already-vulnerable children at risk for child trafficking, prostitution, and crime.

Read more at Crux.

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