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Universal Children’s Day

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Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20th by a number of countries including St. Vincent and the Grenadines while International Children’s Day is celebrated on June 1 by others. The practice of celebrating on November 20th came about because the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) were adopted on November 20, 1954 and 1989 respectively.{{more}} The General Assembly of United Nations recommended that a day be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It also recommended that the day be a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objective of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Convention, with its 54 articles, covers the right of the child to be free from exploitation; its rights to education, health care economic among others.

International Children’s Day goes back further in time and has the same aims of Universal Children’s Day. June 1 is celebrated by China and some states in the U.S.A. It was felt that special concerns of children should be highlighted in the interest of children.

The human species produce offspring that are highly dependent on the adult population for their sustenance. The biological parents are normally considered to be the fittest persons to nurture and raise their children and rightly so many assume their duties However, life is not that simply for a number of children. Many children live without the care and attention of one or two parents. And when parents are poor and lack the necessary resources and skills, the children are the ones who suffer. Children have always been a vulnerable group and are more likely to feel the pangs of poverty than any other group.

Children are helpless at birth and must have steady care for many years before coming into their own. Our laws describe a child as a person who is under the age of fourteen. The Convention on the Rights of the Child describes a child as under the age of eighteen years. But at age fourteen a child is not economically viable. It may be possible to find employment at age eighteen but not many children are fully equipped with the necessary skills to do so. A tertiary education requires a person to be in an educational institution for well over the age of eighteen years.

In these important years of their existence, children’s rights need to be recognized, they may be physically immature and economically weak but their needs especially for care must be fully addressed by the adult world. We have a responsibility to prepare them adequately for the future. A country must produce well balance as opposed to maladjusted children for the benefit of the children themselves and for the well being of the country. Where the family fails, the government must be able to provide some form of assistance. This calls attention to neglected and street children.

The physical well being has implications for the psychological and mental well being of the child. A well fed child would be a happier child. Providing food for street children would prevent them from rummaging the trash cans for food that is already tainted.

Recognizing their duty under the Convention of the Rights of the child, OECS governments are accepting the challenge.. In the coming months you would hear quite a lot about the OECS draft Bill which provides for child care. Existing laws on the subject have been few and haphazard. The best interests of children are paramount!

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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