There is a common expression ‘We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children’ and as we reflect on how we are doing as a society as citizens we must ask ourselves if we are doing a good enough job not only preserving our planet for future generations but also protecting and recognizing our responsibility for providing a safe and caring world for our children. If one is to look at recent news items one could not help but think some of our decisions and actions for making the world a better place for children and future generations need to not only be questioned but changed.
Creating a world that is truly fit for children does not imply simply the absence of war. It means having the confidence that our children would not die of measles or malaria. It means having access to clean water and proper sanitation. It means having primary schools nearby that educate children, free of charge. It means changing the world with children, ensuring their right to participate, and that their views are heard and considered. It means building a world fit for children, where every child can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity.
Technology has certainly created a unique challenge to society in our desire to make our world safe for children. Although our ability to access information, share images and ideas has increased we have also had a rise in cyber-bullying, sexual exploitation and a large number of arrests in regards to these serious child protection issues. It is important for all of us to understand that even the increased access of individuals to pornography, music and video images that may have violent and sexual images that may be appropriate for adults can be easily accessed by children and are certainly not appropriate for children. It is one thing to arrest those involved in child pornography and cyber-bullying, but perhaps it is time to attack the Internet providers that house these sites that are destroying the lives of children and families. The cost to society is enormous and those individuals who are profiting off of criminal activities need to be prosecuted.
Since the declaration to abolish child poverty it has in fact risen. We must all recognize that at times purely financial solutions are not meeting our need to protect children. Children in poverty are at greater risk of health, social and educational needs. Currently being born into poverty means you will have a life of poverty.
Providing decent well-paying jobs for families is certainly a start in the right direction. We must question businesses and individuals who put their increase in profits above the greater good of society. If a company is already making a profit but is laying off workers which increases poverty that is a problem. We must question whether we need policies to change a corporation’s ability to have ‘dead money’.
We need to work hard at providing role models for our children that have integrity and reflect the values of the kind of society we want to create. Each of us can reflect on ourselves if we provide our own children with the role model they need in our own families. Each of us can look in the mirror and determine what changes we need to make to take on our responsibilities as parents or adults to support children.
We also need to look at our politicians and leaders to determine if they have the character required to be those role models for our children. We do need to hold our leaders to a high standard, even a higher standard than others.
(A great scene…watch the entire three minutes)
We need to look no further than the Phoenix Sinclair case to understand the enormous challenges facing society. It is easy for us to blame Child and Family Services for the life of neglect and abuse endured by this girl before she was finally murdered. There are definitely changes that need to occur in our Child Welfare System to improve our responses for children. As stated in the report “The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair Achieving the Best for All Our Children” the recommendations clearly articulate changes that need to be made. The report also states the problem as well as the responsibility to protect children is all of our responsibilities.
Responsibility to protect children is a shared responsibility—shared within the
agency and child welfare system itself, and with other arms of government and
with the community as a whole.
Executive Summary, Page 23
More than 80% of Manitoba children in care are Aboriginal. The picture is similar across Canada, and the numbers are growing. We must ask ourselves as a society why are our Aboriginal children living in far worse circumstances than other children. They live in substandard housing, and poverty is now generational. They are not afforded the same equal opportunity as everyone else. Once poverty becomes entrenched, no matter what race, or religion, when a child grows up without a role model, without seeing a future it’s difficult to imagine how life could ever change. Poverty is about more than just having less money, it means less of everything, including hope and opportunity for something better.
These are some of our many challenges we face in order to ensure our country strives for a better life for all our children, for everyone. If we want a safe, caring society that values children, the responsibility for children cannot be borne only by parents, government, or corporations. It’s a responsibility that belongs to everyone. These are not only Manitoba issues or Canadian issues. They are Global issues. Children need a voice. Children matter. When they cannot speak we must speak for them. We must ensure our policies and goals ensure the wellbeing of our children, of our families, of our future.
“The safety, security and well-being of children and their best interests are
fundamental responsibilities of society.”