The ‘Atlas of Children at Risk‘ report, presented in Rome on Wednesday, looked at problems including inadequate housing, lack of educational opportunities and poor diets.
The children’s rights organization said that in Italy, a growing number of children “experience poverty from birth, grow up in conditions of disadvantages and deprivation compared to their peers, and encounter barriers and obstacles which separate them from educational and formative experiences”
Italy’s level of child poverty is above the European average, with 32.1 percent of minors at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to the average of 27.7 percent.
More than a quarter of the country’s children live in housing with damp or mould, while one in ten live in homes with insufficient light. Meanwhile, 40 percent suffered from the cold due to their families being unable to afford winter heating.
Around 3.5 percent under-15’s didn’t receive at least one high-protein meal per day, while a similar proportion didn’t own any toys, and 3.3 percent were unable to celebrate their birthdays due to lack of money.
The report also shone a light on how growing up poor can affect children’s chances of receiving a good education; one in ten was unable to go on school trips, and 13 percent lacked a suitable place at home for them to do homework.
Among 18-24-year-olds, 14.7 percent quit their studies early, a figure above the European average of 11 percent, despite reductions in university fees over the past few years.
Save the Children noted how lack of education and poverty often go hand in hand, creating a vicious cycle. Children whose parents had not received education beyond middle school were particularly likely to face poverty or social exclusion (58.3 percent), compared to children of university graduates, only 13 percent of whom were labelled ‘at risk’.
According to Eurostat data, Italy allocates much less money to families and to tackling social exclusion than its European counterparts do. Just 4.1 percent of public spending is allocated to children and families; less than half the EU-wide average of 8.5 percent.
Save the Children said it hoped that its findings would encourage the Italian government to increase this spending and do more to help children at risk in Italy. It called these children “true superheroes for overcoming difficult conditions”.