Areas of Concern
Children and international Conventions:
In a civilised society, the importance of child welfare cannot be underestimated because the welfare of the entire community, its growth and development, depends on the health and well-being of its children. Children are a “supremely important national asset” and thw future well-being of the nation depends on how its children grow and develop. That is the main reaso , there has been great concern for the welfare of children at the international level. Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, observed that
“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and thet they grow up in peace.”
The problems relating to children are basically a gift of poverty and illiteracy but there are certain other causative dimensions of the proble, including, at some places, the social structure. Besides these, to employers, child labour is profitable as the wages of children are small, their complaints few and they accomplish in some industries and occupations as much as adults. Employers, therefore, do not hesitate in exploitiing children in their own interest without any consideration to their needs for growth and development. This exceptional vulnerability of children to exploitation gained international attention and led to the adopting of various Conventions and protocols to protect the rights of children.
Child Rights in India:
In this 21st century, when we Indian are busy counting our economic and political success both at national and international level, still is much needed to be done to improve the status of children in India for the coming future. India has 375 million children, more than any other country in the world. Their condition has improved in the last five decades, with child survival rates up, school dropout rates down, and several policy commitments were made by the government at the national and international levels. India has made some significant commitments towards ensuring the basic rights of children. However, many things are still needed to be done to improve the survival and healthcare needs of infants and children, their education, development and protection. Since the Independence of India; we have seen committed efforts of Indian government for the protection of child rights in India at all levels. There are various constitutional and legal provisions providing for policies beneficial to the rights of children.
The term “child labour” generally refers to any economic activity performed by a person under the age of 15, defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations. On the beneficial side of the continuum, there is “light work” after school or legitimate apprenticeship opportunities, such as helping out in the family business or on the family farm. Child labour keeps children out of school and is a major barrier to development. To make the anti child labour law a reality, poverty and unemployment need to be eliminated. Unless the standard of living improves at the lower levels of the society, children will be forced to work. Many middle and upper class families do not hesitate to engage young boys and girls to help them with household cores. The middle class family feels by employing a child below 14 years they are helping poor families to increase their earnings for daily livelihood.
Impact of War on children
The impact of war on children’s life chances across six domains–economic well-being, social stability, food production and distribution, health services, mortality, and education. In five of the six domains, war adversely affects children’s life chances. War substantially reduces gross national product per capita, dramatically increases the proportion of the population that is displaced, decreases access to immunizations, increases mortality, and increases illiteracy. Information for the paper comes from the Children and Life Chances Dataset. One of the most alarming trends relating to children and armed conflicts is their participation as active soldiers. Children are being forcibly recruited, coerced and induced to become combatants. Manipulated by adults, children have been drawn into violence that they are too young to resist and with consequences they cannot imagine. The children most likely to become soldiers are from impoverished and marginalized backgrounds or separated from their families. Children from wealthier and more educated families are often left undisturbed or are released if their parents can ransom them back. They are recruited in many different ways. Some are conscripted, others are press-ganged or kidnapped, and still others are forced to join armed groups to defend their families. In many instances, recruits are arbitrarily seized from the streets, or even from schools and orphanages, when armed militia, police or army cadres roam the streets, picking up anyone they encounter. Hunger and poverty may drive parents to offer their children for service; armies may even pay a child soldier's wage directly to the family. And parents may encourage their daughters to become soldiers if their marriage prospects are poor. Sometimes, children become soldiers simply in order to survive. Indeed, a military unit can be something of a refuge, serving as a kind of surrogate family. Children may join if they believe that this is the only way to guarantee regular meals, clothing or medical attention. Children are also used as soldiers in support functions such as cooks, porters, messengers and spies. While these may seem to be less harmful, these functions entail great hardship and risk bringing all children under suspicion. Reports tell of forces deliberately killing even the youngest children on the grounds that they were dangerous. For girls, their participation often entails being forced to provide sexual service. While children of both sexes might start out in indirect support functions, it does not take long before they are placed in the heat of the battle, where their inexperience and lack of training leave them particularly vulnerable.
Violation of Child rights:
There is no way to thoroughly enumerate the various ways in which children around the world are economically exploited and physically mistreated. But the numbers are great -- and the suffering widespread. Behind the hideous imagery -- of children beaten or sexually abused by parents; ravaged beyond their years by hard living and drug abuse on the streets; maimed by landmines or turned into killers by war; stricken with AIDS -- are the all-too-common struggles against disease, hardship, and family or social traditions that compromise children's humanity or subject them to physical and emotional suffering. While victims of injustice and poverty have always had trouble being heard, none have had more trouble, historically, than children. Whether exploited as child labourers or prostitutes, drafted as young teenagers into armed forces, forced as young girls into a lonely life as domestic workers, deprived of an education to work on the family farm, or denied adequate nutrition and health care, children need help and protection from an adult world that perpetrates most of the abuse.
Children and Education:
The right to education has been universally recognised since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (though referred to by the ILO as early as the 1920s) and has since been enshrined in various international conventions, national constitutions and development plans. However, while the vast majority of countries have signed up to, and ratified, international conventions (such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) far fewer have integrated these rights into their national constitutions or provided the legislative and administrative frameworks to ensure that these rights are realised in practice. In some cases the right exists along with the assumption that the user should pay for this right, undermining the very concept of a right. In others, the right exists in theory but there is no capacity to implement this right in practice. Inevitably, a lack of government support for the right to education hits the poorest hardest. Today, the right to education is still denied to millions around the world.
Children rights and the UN
Disparities and inequities characterize the health and social well-being of children in the world. Children’s rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols are among the most powerful tools available to respond to and increase the relevance of pediatrics to contemporary disparities and determinants of child development . The articles of the convention establish the framework for a redefinition of what constitutes child welfare. The convention establishes a template for child advocacy. The social, economic, and political environments in which children live and develop are increasingly being recognized as the most important contemporary determinants of child development. Ensuring children’s rights and use of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are among the most powerful tools available to respond to these contemporary determinants to improve the well-being of children. Pediatricians and pediatrics have an opportunity and must play a leadership role in responding to this "new, new morbidity" if all children in our respective countries are to have equal opportunities to thrive. At stake is the very relevance of pediatrics to child health.