What was their fault?
Urbanization, development, economic growth, technological advances, power, influence; that’s what drives countries to challenge each other. The competition or race to be the best. To gain superpower status. But what’s missing? Have we got our priorities straight?
Unless you live in your own happy bubble, or look at the world through the eyes of a child you’ll see a world full of problems, communities turning a blind eye to those seeking help more than ever. We see children’s eyes haunted with fear. Who are we to blame for all the injustice. It’s high time that we stop pointing fingers. We as a community need to share the blame. We have forgotten who children are. Wrapped up in globalization, development, and reaching the top. We are slowly forgetting the aspects that matter. We are forgetting humanity.
According to Child Stats, a quarter of the world’s population accounts for children, among which 73.6 million are accounted as children under age eighteen. UNICEF defines children, as “a person below the age of 18, unless the law of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger”. As for me, I describe a child as a person under 18, who does not have to bear the world’s trouble, nor know ways to keep themselves safe from threats, dangers and harm. Instead they should be learning, playing, singing and dreaming of achieving great things and saving the world and laughing around the dinner table sharing a meal with their family.
Fifteen children around the world die, every minute. That is four children every second. That’s the number for just under the age of five years. The reasons are numerous. The children of Asia are no exception when it comes to these world issues. These issues range from premature death, to poverty, rights, war and disasters. Some of these problems shake your ground, however it is good to keep yourself educated and aware.
Poverty a lasting impact on the child
Asia’s 2010 poverty rate shows that there are 343 million poor people. Excluding factors such a disaster, global economic variations, and the likes of such risks. This ties back to the rights of children. Poverty is closely linked to access to food, water, shelter, sanitation, health, education and information. The problem with poverty is it creates a ripple effect. When we talk about achieving “No Poverty” in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development we need to make sure that a central aspect would be tackling child poverty. As the effects of poverty on children is likely to be permanent. Lack of access to nutritious food or even one meal per day are setbacks caused by poverty. This leads to malnutrition, which in turn causes stunted growth in children and more serious issues. However, this is also the stage where stakeholders need to consider that poverty differs from adults to children. For an adult poverty means aspects like lack of financial stability and secure shelter, whereas for the children it is access to education and nutritious food.
“A newly unemployed adult is likely to eventually find work. A child who does not eat enough will be stunted for life. A child who drops out of school will probably never resume their education.” Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Regional Social Policy Adviser
Right to education
We as human beings are entitled to a wide range of rights, generally we refer to them as human rights or basic human rights. Among the different rights a human is entitled for, education is considered an essential and fundamental human right in order to exercise all other human rights. However, millions of children are deprived from educational opportunities, due to war, poverty, ethnicity and disabilities. Over the years though Asia-Pacific region countries have improved in providing platforms for education there are still many children out of school. This number is larger in countries like Philippines, India, Pakistan; the middle-income countries. Even though children attend school, the quality of education is still a major concern within Asia. The reason is due to the governments priority on education, which is relatively low in the Asia-Pacific region countries.
Childhood stolen by wars
“To kill big rats, you have to kill small rats.” Bile raised up my throat, at this inhuman statement. This was what one political commentator said in a radio broadcast, while civil unrest erupted in Rwanda in 1994. In my opinion, the past twenty two years haven’t changed much of these aspects. Technology yes, humanity, more or less the same. If children are not killed in war, they are either disabled, homeless, orphaned or separated from their parents or psychologically traumatized and haunted for life. An estimated 349 children die every day because of war. If you look at a war torn country like Syria, the statistics are heartbreaking; 1.2 million children flee to nearby countries, 4.3 million children need help while 10000 children have died due to the war. What was their fault? Did they ask for any of this?
Mohamed Isaac, age 21 was born in a camp in a camp in Dadaab, Kenya. He says “I would have loved to be a Kenyan and free to live in any part of this country … but that is not an option for me… I belong to a generation of children who have been rendered stateless. I neither belong to Kenya, where I was born, nor Somalia, where my history begins. Sometimes, I say I am a child of UNHCR.”
Why don’t we talk about them?
If you go onto the internet and start browsing, there are two main things that you will learn about this.
- Children and the issues they are facing is nothing ordinary or simple. It’s complex, it’s messy and most of all it’s unfair.
- For such a broad topic that impacts a quarter of the world population, the topic lacks information and discussions, and ways to tackle it. I’m not the first author to take note of this and hopefully won’t be the last one either.
This is the reality. However, organizations like UNICEF have a convention on “The rights of the child”. With articles highlighting non-discrimination, best interest of the child, right to life, survival and development to name a few. The question that pops up in neon is, with principles like these, why are we lagging behind in tackling these issues. A matter of priority I believe. The reason as why the developed countries are not stepping up, sharing best practices or other forms of support and guidance raise questions. The media which is ‘supposed’ to act as a watchdog, as a public interest protector and an educator, tend to ignore these issues, because information or gossip regarding celebrities and world leaders are more news worthy. The voices of these desperate children in dire need of our help, can only be heard if stakeholders such as the media and other relevant bodies work together with a combined effort, to make the world a better place. But so far, the silence of these stakeholders is deafening when it comes to these issues.
The missing headlines
Tonight, when it’s bed time. Hold your child, baby sister, brother, niece, nephew and cousins slightly tighter. Because not everyone is as blessed you are right now. To provide your support go to Save the Children website and donate, because even a single penny could mean a lot. Why end here, when you can go the extra mile? Share this article, share similar articles, raise your voice, get the discussion going. It all starts and ends with you. Not a public advocate? It’s okay. Next time you pray or make a wish, include them. Send them a bit of love and prayer. It goes a long way. Let this make the headlines. “Children’s issues: A tragedy missing in the headlines”.