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Won't somebody think of the children!?
by Asa Butcher
2008-06-04 09:13:58
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Kudos to those who recognise the article title as Helen Lovejoy's catchphrase from "The Simpsons", but today that question should be on everybody's minds because it is International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. At first I was a little bemused about this annual observation, especially since this issue should have been included on June 1st's International Children's Day, but then I realised that you can never have enough attention focused upon this issue.

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression began in 1982 in response to the horrendous number of innocent children suffering because of the conflict in Palestine. However, today this observance serves as a reminder that all children are vulnerable to violence, whether it is the result of war or domestic abuse. Unfortunately, war and conflict are the greatest threat to the world's children and this isn't only via bullets and bombs.

Conflicts also mean displacement, famine and disease; they mean the breakdown of society, no schools, no doctors, nothing. Children can be the victims of aggression through any number of ways and it is depressing to cast our minds back to the different conflicts, wars or violence that have taken place since 1982. At present, Wikipedia lists 14 ongoing conflicts around the world and it includes the Iraq War, the War in Darfur and Afghanistan, the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Second Chechen War.

Here at Ovi we often remind our readers that almost 30,000 children die every day from the side-effects of violence, such as the aforementioned poverty, hunger and preventable diseases, and this is the is equivalent to one child dying every three seconds, 18 children dying every minute, the equivalent of one 2004 Asian Tsunami every week or an Iraq-scale death toll every 15–36 days. Sobering, isn't it. Can you even comprehend the fact that 60 million children died between 2000 and 2006? 60 million is the current population of the United Kingdom.

As I sit here in a Utopia, by comparison to those, it isn't hard to forget about the suffering being faced in each of those countries and it isn't a thought that many of us are willing to conjure up first thing in the morning. However, the Utopia doesn't last long when you realise that children fear and experience violence in every single country I the world, including Finland. As UNICEF state, "Violence cuts across all social, cultural, religious and ethnic lines. Violence and abuse against children may take place anywhere: at home, at school, on the streets."

You do feel helpless and impotent when accessing these situations, which is why we have days such as International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. It is a day to teach our adults and children about the dangers, the effects and the causes of violence. It is a day to bring help and care to the aggressors and the victims, since without one there wouldn't be the other. We can be thankful for our own situation, give love to our children and be ever-vigilant for situations we could try to offer assistance.

According to the CIA World Factbook, around 27% of the world's population is below 15 years of age and each of those is at risk. It is up to us to ensure they are protected to the best of our ability and are raised in a safe environment, free from the threat of violence. How we do this is open for debate, but it is a start if we begin by following our conscience.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-06-04 11:56:43

Those who wish to take the first step may wish to explore the site above and consider sponsoring a child. Ultimately we shall be judged not by how much power we acquired but by what we did to the least among us.

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