Well, I’m going to use a c-word… I was thinking of writing about ‘cod’, ‘Caracas’ and ‘comedy’ – all aspects of my life I’d like to blog about, but tonight a programme on TV really had me thinking hard about what it means to be a child. So yes, this blog has been a challenge because it’s raised some issues for me!
I am child-free by choice, but that doesn’t mean I am not grateful for my childhood. In the grand scheme of things, I probably had a fairly ‘normal’ upbringing – loving parents and siblings, good relationships with friends and extended family. Pets…there were a few. We had cats, guppies and a rabbit called ‘Pookie’…And of course, the benefit of a good education and a safe environment in which to live. Sadly, that is not the case for many children across the world who face poverty, neglect and abuse.
Poverty. According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.
Neglect. It’s estimated that the number of children in the world is roughly 2.2 billion. Of that number, almost 50 per cent (1 billlion) are living below the breadline. Worldwide, 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunised, and 15 million children are orphaned due to HIV/Aids. This is equivalent to the total number of children in countries such as the UK.
Abuse. Despite the fact that we live in a so-called civilised society (another c-word) children are still sexually exploited and damaged by the adults who bear a responsibility for nurturing them. Every year, 1.2 million children are trafficked into the sex trade. This cannot be right. Like animals and elderly people, children very often do not have the resources or faculties to defend themselves. It cannot be right for children who are raped to think they are to blame. It cannot be right for children to be raped.
Every child and young person has rights, no matter who they are or where they live. As adults, it’s our responsibility to ensure that these rights are protected – whether we have children or not.