RUSSIA'S CHILDREN IN CRISIS Russia is the world's largest country but it also has the largest infant and maternal mortality rates in all of Europe-many times that of the US. This and a host of other factors have led to a severe population decline. In 2002 Russia had less than 144 million people and recorded only 1.3 million births compared to 2 million deaths. This population decline is not reversible for at least a generation and will have profound effects for Russia and the world.
A UN report called Russian children "an endangered species." With fewer babies being born (more than 1/3 to single mothers), 400,000 children living in institutions and an orphanage system that does nothing to prepare these children for successful adulthood, there are few programs in place to change the crisis.
When orphans are "emancipated" at age 17 to make their way in the world, more than half are recruited to a life of crime, prostitution, 10% commit suicide, 30% are addicted to alcohol and other drugs during their first year of living independently. This data is from Russian governmental sources, which are often under-reported.
Adding to this catastrophe is the fact that the highest increase in Russian male mortality rates is between men 17-22 and that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe estimates that 50,000 young Russian women are trafficked abroad every year by organized criminal groups for forced prostitution.