The Rights of the Child- You have a role

Two children were shot and seriously injured when gunmen fired wildly at a man standing in a crowd, during the early morning commute on a busy Kingston street on Monday. The man was killed and the children were rushed to hospital, where they were admitted in serious condition. The gunmen who carried out the dastardly act escaped. Up to the time this blog was being written, the police had not confirmed the reason for the shooting or the whereabouts and identity of the gunmen. Speculations are rife that the shooting was a reprisal for an attack on the gunmen the night before. By all accounts, the children were innocent bystanders.

Violent incidents like these are very common all over the world, but are more prevalent in developing countries. It is general knowledge that in Africa children are still being forced to become child soldiers, and therefore inherit a life of crime, torture and mayhem. These children do not know what it is like to be part of a happy home, where they are protected and educated so as to become responsible members of their society.

Many developing countries were signatories to the United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child (1989). The Convention on the Rights of the Child seeks to protect children, who often do not have anyone to speak on their behalf or defend them from atrocities which prevail, especially in hostile countries. Among other things, it seeks to ensure that children have access to good food, housing, education, security and love- regardless of race, sex, religion, color or political persuasion. It also points out that if parents fail to provide these rights, then the state should step in and ensure that no child lives without them.

It is obvious that the men who carried out the early morning attack have no regard for human life, and I strongly doubt that they have ever heard that children have rights. Even though (it would seem) the children weren’t their target, it is sad that children on their way to school have to endure such suffering. Abuses such as these are very common, and many times the children are often directly preyed on by these thugs who kill, rob, rape and injure them. My main concern is that decades after these rights were declared, many people in developing and even developed countries do not know what these rights are, and children are not being given the care and protection that they ought to be given. It is about time we reviewed these rights and see how the different countries in which we operate are meeting these obligations. The time for action is now. We can begin playing our role by looking out for the children in our own communities as well as those in foreign lands. This is one way to end the cycle of abuse. It is said that children live what they learn, and research shows that often times an abused child becomes an abusive adult.

Edgar of Shash.

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