Children everywhere on the earth planet are the weakest of beings, most dependent and most vulnerable members of the entire human race and society.
Their vulnerability accounts for the fact that, they are less experience, lack the necessary knowledge, strength and skills, and are evidently less privileged economically, in most cases.
In order for them to grow-up to become useful citizens in society and to be able to utilize their potential to the fullest, parents, decision makers, well-wishers along with advocates are needed to closely work together to seek their welfare in terms of all that is required; protect, nurture and educate them into responsible adulthood.
Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular focus on the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989 defines a child as any human person who has not reached the age of eighteen years.
Children’s rights include their right to associate with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child’s civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child’s race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics.
Unfortunately, despite this growing recognition of the need to protect and promote children’s rights, several factors continue to hinder the pursuit of same. Factors such as religion, culture, illiteracy and lastly but more important, poverty continues to play a key role in hindering this effort in the following ways:
1) Religion:– most religious teachings tune the minds of its followers. All other concepts deliberately set-up by human rights policy makers to forestall the rights of children is a mere dream. They reason and deal with children’s issues in accordance with the teaching of their religion.
2) Culture:– culture is a way of life, beliefs and living of a group of people. Some cultural practices frown on certain western practices. For instance, some traditions / cultures do not see the importance of girl child education and therefore take measures to prevent or frustrate any effort that will expose them to western education for which reason they are been denied access to education which of course is their basic and legitimate right. This brings to mind the fate of Miss Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani young girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban fighter for going to school and also promoting child education and now become UN Ambassador of peace.
3) Illiteracy:– lack of education among parents continues to remain a stumbling block in pursuit of children’s rights in various part of our society today. Rationally, parents and community leaders especially those living in rural communities can hardly comprehend the concept of children’s rights issues. Taking their individual home care experiences into consideration, parents feel dictated to whenever they are approached on issues relevant to children’s rights hence making it difficult to implement laws laid down to protect children’s rights.
4) Poverty: – Poverty can be defined as the state of being extremely poor or inferior in quality or evidently insufficient in all that it takes to make life meaningful. Efforts towards self-sufficiency and reduction in over dependency on government and donor support continue to face stiff challenges. The following are some of types of poverty being encountered:
a) Situational Poverty:– is believed to be caused by uncontrollable and unavoidable situations in human life such as crisis, loss of bread winner in the family, divorce, bankruptcy, natural disasters etc. In most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, parents are forced to allow their biological children to live the well-off family members. Sadly, such children are most often used as house help and they will never be introduced to any educational opportunities, though it is their basic human rights.
b) Generational Poverty:– In most cultures, there are beliefs that families inherit from ancestors what is left behind. Generational poverty is the situation where families inherit poverty from their forefathers. Families living with this type of poverty mostly lack the necessary tools that will help them break the chain to move out of the situations.
c) Absolute Poverty:– this type of poverty is described as a situation which involves a scarcity of basic necessities such as shelter, water, cloths, food etc. People living within such a situation often tend to focus on day-to-day survival rather than development. Children will be denied access to basic education, health and emotional support.
d) Relative Poverty: refers to the economic status of a family whose income is insufficient to meet its society’s average standard of living. In effect, the following risk factors continue to afflict on families:
i. Emotional and social challenges.
ii. Acute and chronic stressors.
iii. Cognitive lags.
iv. Health and safety issues.
In effect, parents can hardly cater to the development needs of their children. School going-age children who are out of school are found loitering the streets. They end up becoming street hawkers, commercial sex workers and criminal gangs causing havoc to society’s peace.
Therefore, without support to combat poverty, all advocacy efforts and training will lead to no fruitful results.
At CHRAD, our work as advocates is to participate on a human rights agenda by speaking out on issues that hinder the rights of children and taking actions to improve the situation. This is intended to amplify the efforts of human rights lawyers, professionals working for human rights institution and individuals, citizens like friends, relatives and co-workers in local communities.
Over the years, parents and community leaders have gradually improved their understanding and efforts at protecting child’s rights issues. As our organization grows, we intend to partner with national and international organizations and individuals concerned with children’s rights to wage this war of protecting the rights of children.
Encouraging policy makers to establish model of distributive justice to address the expansion of social disparities and inequality geared toward increasing disequilibrium between children from weak economic backgrounds and the privileged. By so doing, it will help to build basic perspective as how to revive protection of rights and support of the lives of vulnerable children in society.