Children talk about their plight

THE MONTH of November marks the celebration of the National Children’s Month. This celebration commemorates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989. The National Council for the Welfare of Children has called on the entire nation to celebrate this very important event because the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the world community was seen as the historic moment when children all over the globe were guaranteed of their rights to survival, development, protection and participation regardless of religion, gender, background and circumstances.

But the celebration of the Children’s Month would be empty and token if government and other duty bearers assert their own analysis on how far the rights of children in the country have been fulfilled and impose their own agenda on what should be for the children without listening to the non- scripted and genuine voices of grassroots children.

As the celebration of the Children’s Month comes to a close, we think of the countless children driven to prostitution and online sexual exploitation; to children forced by circumstances to work on heavy and hazardous jobs; to the children who are raped by people who are supposed to protect them; to the neglected and abandoned children; to the children who still have to scavenge for the next meal; to the children orphaned by the ongoing violent war on drugs.

We do not need to look far and wide to find them. We have many of them in our own region, in our own provinces, in our municipalities, in our cities and in our own barangays. Let us listen to what children themselves think and feel about these adverse realities they’ve been subjected to. Is “illegal drugs” THE PROBLEM or is it just an offshoot of more basic and more pressing problems. And let us take heed on what children think should be for their best interest and what they will do if today, they were in positions of power. Is the government’s call “Bata, Iligtas Sa Druga” which is this year’s theme of the celebration the major and urgent task ahead in fulfilling the rights of children in our country today? Or should government attention be more focused on issues and concerns that matter most to the lives of children now and in the next decades.

It is in this context, that grassroots children from Davao City, Davao Oriental and Davao Del Norte will come together today to share their thoughts and feelings about their own situation and that of other children in their communities and what they think must be, following no script, extemporaneously and spontaneously. (PR)

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