A REFLECTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
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
Let us consider our Catholic tradition.
Jesus loved children. Those of His
disciples who would prevent children from approaching Him were
"let the children come to me and do not
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.
THE CHILD- GLOBAL CONFUSION:
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 – DEPENDENT:
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 CHILD – THE ADULT – THE QUESTION:
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?
Parts of this article appear over my name in documents of the
Canadian Catholic Schools Trustees