number 6, december 10, 1998

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Young speak of dignity

By Wendy S. Robins

The Padare Forum on the Dignity of Children was for children, so it was the children who did the talking. They came from every continent spoke about the concerns of children throughout the world.

The first from Asia spoke of the dangers of Internet child pornography which has made pornographic videos redundant. She also began a motif which was echoed throughout the presentations about the lack of dignity of those involved in child labour.

Another spoke of the sexually exploited in her region and of the "Blossoming Flowers" network which seeks to communicate and exchange ideas and express the problems and find solutions to them.

The participant from Kenya spoke of the difficulties of a nation in which 14.7 million of the 27.8 million population were under 18 in 1997.

She noted that children throughout the world had so many problems in common. So many countries experienced the plight of street children, those with HIV-Aids; those who have been sexually abused; and those addicted to drugs. They also knew of the indignity suffered by those who work as domestic maids.

Two children from North America noted that it might surprise people to know that there was child poverty in North America. Nonetheless, there is an increasing amount of violence, poverty and a growing gap between the rich and the poor.

They spoke of the network called "Free the children". One of its aims is to challenge adults to take the rights of children seriously. Sadly, there were few adult Padare participants attending to be challenged by this stark and yet hopeful session.

The participant from the Czech Republic spoke of the conditions of those children who had been abandoned or placed in special schools and of the effects of unemployment and poverty.

The Padare was told that the world is centred on adults and that the voice of children and adolescents is not heard. Adults have a false idea that children are not responsible. But they are capable and responsible and want to live and progress and find solutions to some of their problems.

Then the Ecumenical Children’s network: children are not blind, we were told, and this is why they have begun to organise. Many times adults forget the issues relating to children and to fight poverty.

There is money to buy weapons and not bread, and this must change. Children have the right to participate politically and in the churches and they wish to claim this right. The children’s network is designed to be a process of mobilizing people of pressuring them to listen and to act.

After reading a letter to the assembly, dances brought the whole proceeding to a colourful and energetic conclusion.

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Read other articles in this issue:

Capoeira, their way to move around campus
Children say it's time for action &
World's most dynamic schoolboy?
Children issue some challenges
CNN world news coverage ‘mile wide, half-inch thick’
Young speak of dignity
God of many names
Street kids have their own plot
An advent night in Africa

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor