Statistics - "Children at Risk

This article is reposted here from the CoMission for Children at Risk website.


In 2003, the Russian Ministry of Health indicated that the number of orphans in the country was still on the rise.  According to the Ministry of Education, there were 700,000 institutionalized orphans in Russia in 2000, representing an increase from their figure of 620,000 just two years earlier.  Today according to data from the Health and Social Development Ministry, more than 730,000 children in Russia either have no parents or have been abandoned by their parents. Of this number about 200,000 of them live in orphanages and internats.

In 2007, 123,000 new orphans were registered by the state with 120,000 of them being placed with extended family members, adopted or placed in foster homes.
More than 160,000 children are waiting to be adopted according to the state database.  International adoptions have been hampered by recent legislation.  As of March 2007, only 20 organizations had received accreditation from the government to oversee international adoptions. In 2007, 9,000 Russian children were adopted by foreign families. More than 4,000 of these went to the United States. *


Unlike in most other countries, as many as 95% of these children have a living parent and are considered social orphans.  Poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and other social problems are the primary reasons that parents abandon their children to Russian orphanages or lose their parental rights.  In fact, the Russian Ministry of Education has reported that 30-40% of the country's orphan population are children from alcoholic families.  The Russian government cannot adequately care for the overwhelming number of orphans.  Consequently, these children often lack proper nutrition, medical care and education. 


In addition to the hundreds of thousands of children growing up in state-run institutions, there are countless others that roam the streets, living in railroad stations, sewers, or any place in which they can find shelter.  Estimates on the number of homeless children vary, but it is believed that there are around 3 million of them struggling to survive on and under Russia's city streets.  The total number of children living on the streets and in orphanages adds up to 3,700,000 children; 10% of the Russian population is below the age of 19. 


An Epidemic of Hopelessness

Each child in a state-run orphanage is diagnosed as either normal or disabled at the age of four. Research has found that more than two-thirds of the children in Russian institutions have been wrongly diagnosed as mentally deficient and given the label "imbecile" for the rest of their lives with little hope for change.


Those children classified as normal usually remain in a state-supported orphanage until they are approximately 16-17 years of age.  Typically, they are ill-equipped for life on their own, and many fail to successfully make the transition from institutional to independent living.  As the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia explodes (AIDS in Russia is growing faster than in any other country in the world), orphans become an increasingly at-risk group.   


According to the 1998 Human Rights Watch Report entitled Abandoned to the State, of the more than 15,000 children who leave orphanages each year:

  • 6,000 will be homeless
  • 5,000 will be unemployed
  • 3,000 will turn to crime
  • 1,500 will commit suicide within a few years

More recently, the Russian Ministry of Education found that of those orphans aging out of institutions:

  • 50% fall into a high-risk category
  • 40% become drug users
  • 40% commit crimes
  • 10% commit suicide

Thankfully, an open door exists for Christian organizations to respond while demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.

* Statistics regarding 2007 were taken from the article "Russian Orphans" By Svetlana Osadchuk in the May 19, 2008 edition of the Moscow Times.


This article was copied from the CoMission for Children at Risk website and reposted here.  The Commission is a great source of additional information on the plight of the orphan in Russia and Eastern Europe and are very involved in helping all of us involved in this ministry network with one another and resource the critical needs of training.  We plan to participate in a conference they are helping to facilitate in Ukraine in March of '09.  You can find more information about this conference, entitled the 'Eastern European Summit on Orphans and the Church' at their website.



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