The history of Childhood

Children who are the victims of abuse are deprived of the right to their childhood and each childhood lost is an irreplaceable loss to us. Queen Silvia

Many children worldwide suffer some type of abuse every day, and even more are at risk. Globally, an estimated one in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually abused during childhood and adolescence. The World Childhood Foundation was founded in 1999 by Queen Silvia to safeguard the right of the child to a safe and loving childhood, and to work in particular to improve the living conditions for children at risk of becoming victims of violence or sexual abuse.

In her work, the Queen has met children who are victims of sexual exploitation, children who have been forced to work on the street and children who suffer in other ways – ways that no one should have to endure. During her trips around the world, she has seen that people chose to ignore the problem and the children living in vulnerable situations. She has always been engaged in issues concerning children’s rights and, in 1996, she was the patroness of the First World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. At this time, the Queen felt a strong personal wish to do something concrete for children who are mistreated, and therefore chose to form the World Childhood Foundation.

When the Queen spoke with close friends, politicians and business leaders in Brazil, it became clear that many Brazilian companies take substantial social responsibility by supporting various types of social projects, which was not common in Sweden at that time. We are stronger together, and a collaboration between Sweden and Brazil was created with the Queen as the unifying force. In Sweden, she invited companies to a seminar at the Palace, resulting in 14 companies and foundations becoming cofounders of the World Childhood Foundation.

From the outset, Childhood has worked to highlight issues concerning the sexual exploitation of children and problems linked to orphanages. We have helped to establish Barnahus children’s houses in Sweden, the Republic of Belarus and Brazil. When Childhood was founded, the social security scheme in Eastern Europe had collapsed and thousands of children were living in extreme poverty on the streets and in orphanages. A natural focus for us was to support activities that strived to offer these children better alternatives. Currently, much of our work is about supporting refugee children, highlighting the problem of orphanage tourism and child safety online.

Since 1999, more than 1,000 projects have received support from Childhood, and thousands of children have experienced a safer childhood, free from sexual abuse and violence.