By Kirran Khan
Pakistan is one of the signatories to the Convention of Child’s Right passed in 1989 by the United Nations. The convention consists of 54 articles which all talk about the rights of children from different dimensions. Article 6, 24, 28, 32 discuss points like, everywhere in the world the children have the right to survival, access to the quality free primary education, and protection from abuse and exploitation (United Nations International Children Emergency Fund [UNICEF], 1989). A number of scholars and intellectuals have highlighted the importance of these rights and suggested ways to educate children about their rights. Here, I will try to make you rethink about the contextual realities.
Thanks to the writers Feeney, Moravcik and Nolte (2016) for their contribution to the world by writing one of my favorite books, “Who Am I in the Lives of Children”. The book includes a chapter on child’s safety and protection and many other important chapters regarding child’s holistic development. They ask some awakening questions from their readers, such as; ‘are we parents and educators teaching our children in the early years about the things, situations and events which are dangerous and harmful to them?’ and ‘are we aware of the indicators of being physically abused, sexually abused and being neglected?’. These questions prompted me to think about the children in my home and neighborhood. And I have two questions to ask from the readers. First, are we, as parents, aware about the basic rights of our children, and do we bother teaching them about their basic rights? Second, are our children, before they turn 18, aware of being abused and exploited?
Child rights are neither understood nor properly given to the children in most of the developing countries and Pakistan is no exception. And this is quite unfortunate and I am witness as a community member that most of the parents in our area (Chitral) do not understand or talk to their children about their basic rights. In our homes, I have never seen elders discussing with their young children about the sensitive issues of being abused and exploited by relatives and strangers. Parents should think about the places where our children might be at risk of being abused such as at play place, at school and in neighborhood. Secondly, just for a while, can we think about the provision of healthy diet and environment to our children as it is their right to survive. Thirdly, yes I agree that we are sending our child to schools, but I am a little bit conscious about the quality of education which we are providing to our children. If the quality of education is not up to the mark they will struggle while coping with challenges (health matters, communication with the world and effective ways of earning and living).
The least that each of us could do is to try to aware our youngsters about their rights bearing in mind their protection and holistic development. Otherwise, I am afraid about the safety of our beautiful and innocent souls in our peaceful Chitral.
Feeney, S., Moravcik, E. & Nolte, S. (2016). Who am I in lives of children: An introduction to early childhood education. New York, U.S.A: Pearson.
UNICEF. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child Labor, 8.