Human society has difficulty attempting to define the rights of the Child. Declaring such rights is a gave problem for many nations. Many could not or would not sign the U.N. Declaration of Rights of the Child. Children’s rights are not obvious. They deserve discussion.

Let us consider our Catholic tradition.


Jesus loved children. Those of His disciples who would prevent children from approaching Him were reprimanded:

"let the children come to me and do not stop them,
because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19, 14.

Jesus also cautioned the adult world that:

"Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Luke 18, 17

The child and the relationship of children toward adults were important to Christ and His message of salvation. Jesus taught that the adult world could learn from children. The child was integral to the salvation of humanity.


It is stressing the obvious to observe that the child has been under the pressure of adult considerations and priorities during this century. War, boundary disputes, racial and national hatreds and the lack of an international economy have disadvantaged innocent children. However, if the child, so apt for heaven, is to be welcome in our world, humankind must evaluate its norms of human behavior. In our own society and other societies of the world, abortion, physical abuse,world hunger, lack of an equitable distribution of food, the availability of clean water and access to education and medical assistance have either hampered normal physical and emotional growth or caused pain and death to children. In many of these incidents, the adult world has found itself trapped in economic depressions, natural disasters, national conflicts or popular philosophies which dictate family size or advocate termination of pregnancy as a means of population control or convenience. It is equally obvious to some of us that such actions against the human child have produced a society which has lost its sensitivity to neighbor needs and the capacity to be motivated by the gentle.


The child is utterly dependent on the gentility of the adult world. The characteristic confidence it has in adults has too often gone unrecognized because of overriding adult concerns, selfish interests or a failure to understand societies need to care for the young.


The question must be asked: does every adult have the responsibility to assure a safe, equitable, nourishing world for children? Other more specific questions follow hard upon:

Is it an adult world? Are adults willing to share the world with children? Has the adult the right to consume the resources of the earth without regard to the future needs of the child? May the adult world make social and economic decisions without reference to the special needs of the child? Under what terms – principles does the child claim human rights? Under what terms-principles does the child claim an equitable share of the world’s goods and services?

T.F.Mohan C.S.B.

Parts of this article appear over my name in documents of the Canadian Catholic Schools Trustees


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