World Children’s Day – 20th November 2020
Misconceptions of children and childhood have prevailed since the 17th-18th Enlightenment period. From a puritan view of the child to assuming infants enter the world as blank slates, a passive, inherently innocent and somewhat virtuous positioning saturated an outdated social construct of childhood. Whilst clouding societies vision, the miss-informed belief that children remain inherently dependent and semi-capablebeings, in need of socialisation, so as to become fully independent fair-minded, morally capable adults, continued to permeate childrearing norms. By comparison, society has progressed. Typically, children are positively regarded, their access to family stability, reciprocal care, education, and wellbeing is today a far cry from their ancestral era. Nevertheless, evidence suggests certain areas of society remains fixed, bounded by the notion that children simply develop through a process of childhood – a transitional stage of maturation (Uprichard, 2008). Through this lens, their voices are left unheard, disregarded, marginalised and their rights as human beings simply overlooked. Without autonomy, children remain fractured members of society, their opinions concerning family, friends, school life and wellbeing remain unheard, and so, susceptibility to mental health continue to triumph.
“Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals, as well as young people and children themselves, can play an important part in making World Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations”United Nations 2020
In contrast, when children are provided with safe opportunities to imagine, venture, socialise, discover, and create, their innate curiosity, their zest for innovation and life becomes an unstoppable and contagious force. This is nothing new, what is presented here has been presented before. In 1954, World Children’s Day was first established, 1959 remains the year when the United National General Assembly embraced the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Thirty years later, 1989 remains a poignant time in history for the international agreement, the enactment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child [UNCRC] (United Nations, 1989).
World Children’s Day 2020, will undoubtedly bare new meaning for many. For the first time, in our lifetime, children across the globe will be socially distant from family and friends, placed in bubbles, masked and protected against an invisible enemy. Unprecedented times of change and unrest calls for calm and diligent responses from those in position of responsibility. It is well documented that children respond to subtle changes within their immediate environment and for the majority of young citizens, their families, homes, communities and educational settings continue to play a vital stable constant in their lives. Although actions of government can influence children more than any other societal group, on this World Children’s Day, let’s refocus and actively listen to what children are saying. Let’s remain mindful that children are not possessions of adults, they are equals, they are not standing in the waiting room for adulthood, they are beings, with the same human rights as adults (UNICEF, 2020). They are active, independent agents, eager to be heard and respectively are already shaping the formation of human capital (Hernandez, 1994). The 2020 pandemic may have disrupted many areas of our lives, however, remains incapable of disrupting our ability to actively listen to the voices of children.