Global Child Advocacy Essay

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Global child advocacy emphasizes the protection of children’s rights, including the right to be treated fairly, to be protected from violence, to have the opportunity to develop fully, and to be free from abuse and exploitation. The violation of rights can adversely affect children’s well-being as well as their growth and development. Children are particularly vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse because they lack the social mechanisms or power to protect themselves. In an effort to promote stronger action on behalf of children, alliances of people who share these ideals champion children’s causes and collectively work to bring about positive social change. An associated goal is the empowerment of youth to actively participate in decision making and community life as a means to demonstrate respect for their views and their inherent value as human beings. By valuing children’s contributions and incorporating their voices into family, cultural, and social life, a protective environment can be fostered that promotes the fundamental rights of children to be treated with dignity and to remain free from harm.

Positive Directions

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the landmark UN covenant that sets forth principles to support the creation of protective and nurturing environments for children to grow and develop. By mobilizing collaborations between the government, national child service partners, social agencies, individuals within the community, families, and youth, social movements can be fostered that ensure that the special legal protections assigned to young people are safeguarded and upheld with dignity and fairness.

Universal success in meeting goals for children’s well-being has remained elusive, but the current conditions of young people are not absolute. Positive change for many young lives has resulted from progress in the education of greater numbers of children, initiatives to protect children from abuse and exploitation, and national commitments to children’s issues. Social movements that promote the rights of children and advance humanity have made tremendous strides in the past decade. Continued mobilization of resources for a global movement to prevent the suffering of children is of paramount importance to secure the dignity and worth of children worldwide.

Challenges

Exposure to traumatic experiences has both short-term and long-term consequences in a child’s life and can contribute to physical and mental health problems as well as educational impairments. Investments in children’s present and future functioning necessitate allocation of resources to address education, physical health, socioemotional well-being, and economic security. Children are injured and killed in armed conflicts and exploited in the commercial sex industry. The goal is not only to reduce child fatalities that stem from abuse, exploitation, disease, conflicts, malnourishment, and other areas of vulnerability, but also to improve the quality of children’s lives.

There is now more common acceptance of the critical periods of childhood and of the cumulative effects of missed opportunities for physical, emotional, and educational development. Regardless of age, children need secure and supportive environments where caring adults advocate for their safety and optimal functioning. Whereas young children require family and community based supports that enhance the skills of caregivers to build a strong foundation for their development, adolescents require opportunities to help shape their future through active participation. Advocacy initiatives can provide the impetus for accessing the energy and ingenuity of youth who can be partners in improving the future status of their peers. Moreover, global efforts are an asset to children’s issues by strengthening international collaboration and the sharing of information that can foster children’s investment in the rights of the young.

Awareness of the deficits and gaps in children’s opportunities to achieve their optimum capabilities across all realms of functioning highlights strides that have been made and emphasizes continuing areas of vulnerability. These areas in need of attention include public policies and legal actions that perpetuate responses that fail to recognize children’s needs and rights. Educators and education are critical to the process of intervention by providing safe and supportive environments where professionals and families have the opportunity to learn about abuses against children and their complex risk factors.

Advocacy Efforts

Global child advocacy highlights global efforts to recognize deficits and facilitate protection of children from threats to their healthy functioning. These initiatives optimize human capabilities and inform us of the conditions that contribute to the social, physical, and emotional development of children and those that deprive children of their chance for success and happiness. Child advocates diligently work toward crafting a framework for action that is integrated across disciplines. Despite divergent perspectives and problems that are addressed, a shared commitment to explore the issues and challenges of children creates a common vision and goal to recognize and promote the rights and well-being of children worldwide.

Global child advocacy seeds ongoing efforts that foster future action for children. These initiatives are needed to not only mobilize the involvement of professionals as advocates, but also foster the inclusion of children and families. These collaborations can help advance a partnership for exploring and developing solutions that support protective and nurturing environments in which children can grow and develop.

Success in promoting children’s issues not only advances the future of children but also represents a commitment to safeguarding the dignity and worth of all members of our society. Global child advocacy comprises more than the expression of a value statement. Child advocates voice the concerns and interests of children who may be too young, vulnerable, or marginalized to be heard. They work to create safe and protected environments for children at risk for harm, and for those children who already have suffered adversity, child advocates foster the enhancement of service capacity and delivery, pursue policy changes to create mechanisms that are child-centered, and seek out justice for rights violations. Global child advocacy entails the combination of social will with political forces and the allocation of resources as part of an international response. Tasks include the development of resources that contribute to the emerging knowledge of children’s issues, the creation of forums to focus on the progress that is possible and the interventions that are still needed, and the infusion of policies that foster new insights and seed opportunities for greater strides to be realized.

Advocacy for children offers a mechanism to prioritize children’s issues and amplify their voice so that no child goes unheard. Who are these children in need of a voice? They are the young who reside in communities throughout the world. Our failure to act to protect and support children exacerbates the suffering and tragedy of each new generation. By directing our passion and commitment to informing others, evolving solutions, and implementing action, we can embrace and safeguard children’s right to grow and develop. Even the most disadvantaged and marginalized children can be represented in these efforts, have an opportunity to progress in their development, and have their needs and rights heard. The combination of innovation and expertise can give shape and form to the dreams, vision, and voice of the children around us.

Bibliography:

  1. Berson, I. R., Berson, M. J., & Cruz, B. C. (Eds.). (2001). Research in global child advocacy: Cross-cultural perspectives. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  2. Kugelmass, J. W., & Ritchie, D. J. (Eds.). (2003). Advocating for children and families in an emerging democracy: The post-Soviet experience in Lithuania. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  3. Pattnaik, J. (Ed.). (2004). Childhood in South Asia: A critical look at issues, policies, and programs. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  4. UNICEF, Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.unicef.org/crc
  5. UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children: http://www.unicef.org/sowc

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