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Acknowledging Children's Rights

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which defines children's rights to protection, education, health care, shelter, and proper nourishment, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959. The Convention on the Rights of the Child describes a child as a person, a member of the family and community, with age and developmentally appropriate rights and obligations. The Convention firmly emphasizes the focus on the overall child by recognizing children's rights in this way.

Children's rights are a subset of human rights that deal specifically with the protection and care that children are entitled to. Children's rights are vital since they apply to their survival, development, and protection against abuse, neglect, and exploitation, as well as their right to participate in familial, cultural, and social life. People often forget that children are individuals, with the same basic human rights as adults, as well as additional rights that recognize their special needs. Parents, children are not your property or helpless objects, they are human beings who have their own set of rights!

We recognize the need, but what is the government doing to ensure that children's rights are respected in the United States? Consider all the children who have been separated from their families and have been trafficked or died because of this president's negligence to the border crisis. I'm simply highlighting border policies that facilitate human trafficking, which includes both adults and children. While some countries' constitutions have sections dedicated to children's rights, the United States continues to struggle to prove that it cares for and protects its children. The United States has a long way to go in terms of strengthening and safeguarding children's access to their rights. According to the UAB human rights center, the United States has been complicit in the violation of many children's rights. Children have suffered and continue to live in poverty, with parents who lack job security, some who do not attend school, and others who do not receive adequate judicial retribution.

It's April 2022, and all I've heard and seen are news of children being murdered or seriously hurt. Children of all ages are being murdered by other children, and court systems are failing to protect children by keeping them with unstable caregivers and in abusive homes. Yes, I understand that if a child-protective agency has reasonable cause, they can file a petition with the Family Court to have assistance in the child's protection. The problem with judicial system is that they may not allow children to express their choices, instead making decisions for them or pressuring them into making a specific option. In some circumstances, the judge is on the side of the parent, and the child is returned to the parent. I realize that the goal is to reunite the child with his or her family, but what happens if there is sufficient evidence that the child cannot thrive in this environment? How can you be sure you're making the best choice for the child? Who says you must make that choice? Why not inquire as to what the child desires? Let's face it, they're the ones who must deal with the consequences of your decision. As a social worker who has worked in the foster care system, I've seen countless examples where this has occurred, and cases like these make my mind spin.

Let's face it, some of these agencies have poor service quality; you have some staff who care and want to help, and others who are burned out and don't. The process is shaky, and children are sometimes put with foster parents who are not always looking out for their best interests. Adult figures in these children’s’ lives, such as teachers, mentors, tutors, and care providers, see them daily and can detect when a child is being mistreated but refuse to report it.

So, what can we do to help protect children's rights in the United States? What are some approaches to improving children's access to their rights? Sponsoring a child, adopting a child, becoming a foster parent, donating, and praying are all obvious possibilities, but it’s not enough. Donating and sponsoring children has been polluted by greed and dishonesty, making it difficult for people to give because they have no idea where the money is going. To be honest, it's tough to say; we need more petitions, groups, and compassionate and sincere people to speak up.

Finally, I'd want to leave you with a quote from the world vison, “we believe every child deserves a childhood, surrounded by protective families and communities, free from violence, and with the opportunity to thrive and the experience the abundant life god promised.”

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