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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Children and Human Rights in the 21st Century Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria Apr 13, 2007
Culture , Health , Human Rights , Child & Youth Rights   Opinions


The global scandal of violence against children
Is a horror story too often untold?
With malice and clear intent,
Violence is used against the members of society
Least able to protect themselves—
Children in school, in orphanages, on the street,
In refugee camps and war zones,
In detention, and in fields and factories

Many human rights abuses against children,
Are found that in every region of the world,
In almost every aspect of their lives,
Children are subject to unconscionable violence,
Most often perpetrated by the very individuals
Charged with their safety and well-being

Children are exposed to other human rights abuses as well.
Millions have no access to education,
Work long hours under hazardous conditions,
Are forced to become soldiers,
Languish in orphanages or detention centers
Where they endure inhumane conditions
And daily assaults on their dignity

These abuses persist because children have few mechanisms
For reporting violence and other human rights violations
They may be reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals.
And because they are children,
Their complaints are often not taken seriously.
Even when children do make reports or abuse is exposed,
Perpetrators are rarely investigated or prosecuted.

Those in a position to take action may be complicit in the abuse,
Reluctant to discipline or prosecute a colleague,
Or fearful of negative publicity
Adults who witness abuse by their own colleagues and
Attempt to report it may be fired for speaking up.

The year 2006 marks the sixteenth year of the entry into force of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child,
The landmark treaty that guarantees
Children the right to be free from discrimination,
To be protected in armed conflicts,
To be protected from torture and cruel, inhuman,
Or degrading treatment or punishment, to be free from arbitrary deprivation of liberty,
To receive age-appropriate treatment in the justice system,
And to be free from economic exploitation

And other abuses, among other rights.
Achieving these rights remains a challenge.
Governments must take stronger action to
Implement the convention's provisions for development
And also work harder fulfill their promises to the children of the world



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Henry Ekwuruke

Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
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