“I want to be a doctor”. “I want to be a policeman”. “I want to be like mummy when I grow up”. “Well, I want to be like daddy when I grow up”. These are the words which have been uttered by millions of children around the world. As adults, we once uttered those words too. Yet, there are numerous children who cannot say the same. Their little minds are preoccupied with questions such as: “What will I eat today?”, “Where are my parents?” “Why am I being neglected?” Will mummy hate me if I don’t come home with any money? The entire month of May is being celebrated as Child’s month. Many use this time to emphasize the voices of our young children; yet throughout the other eleven months of the year this emphasis is not highlighted. I believe that our children should be celebrated, heard, and loved 365 days a year. So then, who is a child? What are some of the rights of a child and how can you support a child’s dream?
On Wednesday April 06, 2012, National Child’s Month was launched under the theme “Our World...Their Future...Our Responsibility”. Dr. Pauline Mullings, chairperson of the National Child’s Month Committee explained that the theme was geared towards encouraging parents and caregivers to be more responsible in the care and nurturing of our children. She continued, “we have left the training and guidance of our children to the computer, mainly the Internet; the television, advertisements, print and electronic media, and these influences have turned out to be negative for our children.”(Jamaica Observer) Mrs. Mullings spoke about celebrating our children. The word celebrate is often used when referring to parties and festive occasions. However, its Latin origin means “to honour”. We know that “to honour” means to hold in esteem or to show respect.
Children at a recently held Community Music Programme at NCU - file
The definition of a child under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) covers all human beings under the age of 18 unless the relevant national law recognises an earlier age of majority. However, the Convention emphasises that the substitution of an earlier age of majority must be in conformity with the spirit of the Convention and its guiding principles and thus should not be used to undermine the rights of a child. In layman terms, a child usually refers to those individuals under the age of ten. Though the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) defines a child as someone under the age of 10, many adolescents’ are child-like in nature. Some teenagers have to “grow up” before time to take care of their younger sibling. This forces them to take on the responsibilities of an adult neglecting the daily pleasures of a child.
All children have the same rights. However, their rights are violated in many countries, and children do not benefit from the same rights. The rights of a child encompass the fundamental principles of all human beings: the right to life, the non-discrimination principle, the right to dignity through the protection of physical and mental integrity (protection against slavery, torture and bad treatments. Children rights are civil and political: such as the right to identity and nationality, economic, social and cultural (the right to education, a decent standard of living, and health), individual rights (the right to live with his parents, the right to education, and the right to benefit from protection). A child’s right may also be collective (rights of a refugee and disabled children, rights of minority children or children from autochthonous groups).
How then can you support the dream of a child? As parents, role models, and caregivers it is very important that we foster the development of our children’s dream. We can do this by providing avenues that will steer them in the right direction. Always seek to provide opportunities (educational, motivational or financial) that can improve their mental, physical, or social ability. Don’t turn a blind eye to a neglected child. Make a difference today; promote, defend and make a child’s rights a reality.