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Caring for our young

Nov 21, 2014, 10:29 AM

We have been reminded of the 20th birthday of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989.

There is a clear indication that the world recognised the need to promote and protect the rights of children as manifested by the fact that the CRC is the most widely ratified international legal instrument with its current approval of 194 countries.

However, while we vehemently support the letter and spirit of some provisions of the CRC and other legal instruments geared towards promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of children, we should not be tempted to leave our children on their own accord.

This is not to say early marriage or female genital mutilation should be encouraged, or the girl child should not be sent to school; in fact these are some of the inhibitions we want cleared in the way of the blissful growth and development of our children.

However, it is good to remember that childhood is an important period in a person’s life. This phase is the basis for the mental growth of a child.

The advent of technology and development at a time we are promoting the rights of children has ushered in a new paradigm in the upbringing of children.

Children of ‘modern parents’ are now confined to their rooms holding cell phones, engaging on playing stations and computer games and constantly watching TV programmes.

Whilst most parents are too busy after the pursuit of money, paying little attention to the growth of their children, the latter are left on their own practising all sorts of games and vices that are inimical to their rightful growth.

Essentially we should watch over our children to ensure they become the good citizens we want them to be.

In this vein, therefore, nations and governments must endeavor to give children the necessary support and training to attain a better tomorrow.

According to Njundu Drammeh, a child rights activist and senior official of Child Protection Alliance (CPA) in The Gambia, while we are making great progress as a nation in fulfilling the rights of children, the findings in the UNICEF-Banjul MICS Report 2010 indicated that we need to do more to improve our birth registration rate for under-fives, close the gap in gender parity at the senior secondary level, increase tremendously the consumption of iodised salt by households, encourage positive parenting to prevent violence against children and accelerate our efforts towards the legal prohibition of harmful traditional practices against children, including child marriage and FGM.

If these are achieved, then we are near the bridge of making sure that abuse and exploitation of children are altered in our society.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”

Denis Waitley