Our species is widely different from other mammalian creatures in many ways. One of the most unusual features of us Homo sapiens, is our prolonged period of delayed maturation or prolonged childhood. Most other placental mammals achieve sexual maturity relatively soon after birth. For humans, this stage of life is more than a decade long. To become fully capable, socially functioning members of human society, juvenile humans need special considerations and protections.
We take this aspect of human life for granted and give very little thought to it. Sometimes it seems like many adult members of the human species forget about the need to protect and nurture children completely.
It’s tragic that we must remind ourselves about the need to keep children from harm. Many of us need acknowledgements and reminders of the pain endured by millions of children all over the World who have become victims of physical, emotional, and mental abuse. This is the motivation behind the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.
Upon seeing the name of this commemorative day, one of my first thoughts is that the name is too long. In order to capture the short attention span of many people, a one or two word title needs to be adopted. Until that happens, concerned citizens need to use saturation and repetition campaigns to get the message across.
In August of 1982, during the question of the emergency situation in Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly was concerned about the conditions affecting Palestinian and Lebanese children in the war zones. The members voted to designate June fourth of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.
Just one upsetting example of this ongoing problem is the years long conflict in Colombia. A recent report states that between June 2009 and August 2011 that over 147,000 internally displaced people were children. These victims were under almost constant threats of violent behavior by adults. They suffered the danger of landmines and no access to basic services. Worse yet, is that estimates of up to 14,000 children and youths have been recruited as child soldiers.
Some of them may be as young as nine or ten years of age. In some African nations, like the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan, kids suffer many human rights violations against them from the “Lord’s Resistance Army”, LRA. Between mid 2009 and early 2012, around 600 children were recruited into the LRA.
Children are often used as combatants, cooks, guards, messengers, and human shields. Girls are frequently subjected to sexual violence, as well. These problems are also exhibited in the case of village defense militias that protect communities from attacks. To help the youngsters cope, some nations are struggling to provide rescued youthful survivors with basic psychosocial support.
Closer to home, a UNICEF report states that more than 275,000,000 children, globally, are exposed to some form of domestic violence. This often insidious problem knows no ethnicity, national boundaries, nor social status. The victims frequently display psychological and behavioral problems. They are at risk for depression and suicide. Often, there is a greater risk of early pregnancy, criminality, and drug abuse.
There are many ways that we can help young victims of aggressive actions. Governments, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and especially individuals can band together to respect children’s rights to make sure all kids get the best possible start in life.
We need to prioritize the need to immediately eliminate all forms of violence and abuse. Also, sexual and economic exploitation of juveniles needs to end now.
No young person should ever experience the nightmare of war and insurrection. On a similar note, children should never be subjected to environmental degradation and pollution.
Impoverished conditions have been proven to harm children in fundamental ways. The basic well-being of kids needs to be a national and social objective for governments and non-governmental organizations in development and debt relief programs.
Very high on the list should be the right of every child to an effective, education that stimulates inquiry, imagination, and creativity. It is through the educated mind that conditions not only improve, but are sustained.
On this International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, we can acknowledge the pain and resilience that youngsters experience. The human family must protect the children and hold exploiters and perpetrators highly accountable for their words and actions that harm kids.
Every child deserves the most basic rights that have been stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.