Hopes for new world for children
New Year’s message from Faith Marshall Harris UNESCO Children’s Champion
The beginning of a New Year provides an ideal opportunity to express our hopes and prayers for the forthcoming year.
In this regard, as Children’s Champion, I am wishing for a brave new world for children and young people with the dawn of 2013; for children to get not only love and attention, but structure and supervision.
However, children need discipline but not abuse. I want all of us to remember that abuse can take various forms – verbal tongue-lashings, emotional and psychological bad treatment and neglect are all forms of abuse that some of our children suffer.
I am pleading their cause and asking all adults who have contact with the most vulnerable of our nation to constantly safeguard and protect them against all forms of abuse in the coming year and all the years ahead.
I am particularly concerned that children are often left alone to their own devices and are virtually raising themselves, especially outside of school hours. They have no set rules laid down, no timetable, no bedtime, and no Sunday school time.
Exposing children to pornographic material or overt sexual displays and activity or encouraging them to be part of exhibitions of that nature are all forms of abuse. Let us be aware and let us stamp it out.
Children and young people need to be protected from drug abuse which can ruin their lives and cancel their future.
Children need to be guided. Children need to be loved and listened to.
The Convention On The Rights Of The Child recognizes that for full and harmonious development, a child should grow up in a family environment “in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding”.
It may be too idealistic to wish we could return to the days of the whole village raising a child, but at least let us ensure that each child is raised by two loving parents, whether they are still an “item” or not.
I urge grandparents, godparents, neighbours to also get in the act, particularly where any abuse is suspected. Let us look out for our children and report any abuse to the authorities in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Children need not only to know their rights but also their responsibilities in order to become good and honest citizens.
My message to children is simply this: You have the responsibility to listen, learn and obey and to try to protect yourself and others, if you can, from abuse. Your responsibility includes going to school and taking full advantage of the education provided.
We have just celebrated the birth of the Christ Child who grew up in later years to teach us how to look out for our children. I am always encouraged and inspired by the notion that Jesus Christ began the first child protection agency.
It is my fervent hope that we follow His example in 2013.