Friday, August 23, 2013

Child Protection

“Child Protection”
refers a collection of government-supervised programs created to protect young people and encourage stability for at-risk families.  The idea of “child protection” is concerned first with the vulnerability of children and the need to protect them from harmful influences; second, it attempts to offer opportunities that allow children to mature as economically-secure and productive adults.  The services associated with child protection range from food assistance, home visits, counseling, special education or child-care services, and vocational rehabilitation for care-givers, to foster care for children, adoption, and incarceration of an abusive parent or care-giver.  The primary concern is for the welfare of the child, ensuring he or she has access to the care and nurturing necessary to be prepared for a stable and healthy future.
Awareness of the vulnerability of children and the hazards that face them in many parts of the world has concerned global philanthropy since the early 20th century.  As a product of the “International Save the Children” convention in Geneva, Switzerland in 1923, a series of human rights declarations—referred to collectively as “The Rights of a Child”—were made public in the hopes of inspiring greater protection for children.  These rights focus on offering children access to sources of physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth, while preventing forces that could cripple these areas of development. 
According to the UN, the greatest concern facing child protection is poverty.  While situations like child poverty are difficult to prevent in many parts of the world, child protection attempts to mediate the negative influences of location, background, and economics as well as address concerns such as: neglect, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.  Problems like child labor in Bangladesh, child incarceration in China and Iran, child soldiers in the Congo, child prostitutes in Thailand and Afghanistan are extreme examples of what child protection services seek to prevent.  Even in the inner-city areas of the first world, children are faced with gang violence, lack of parental support, exposure to drugs, reduced access to educational opportunities, and protection from exploitation.  In order to be effective, child protection has to be responsible to the local conditions in which it is implemented and cultural sensitive to the needs of a wide variety of communities.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stolen Innocence

There are certain things that cause irreparable damage in children, which keep them from the getting the starts in life they need to become healthy, productive citizens and to enjoy all the fruits life has to offer.  These are the things that steal the joy and pleasure of youth which spur the learning of too much, too fast… that take the beauty of innocence away never to be returned.

Poverty is overwhelmingly common our world.  Children can’t think or play or learn when they are hungry.  When they have to focus on survival, the world becomes a hard, cold place where just living through the day is an accomplishment, and it is one that is too often only rewarded by another day of hunger. Poverty induces crime; young people will steal, mug, and harm others to get what they need to survive… taking actions that might never otherwise take, just in order to get by.

Poverty often seems to partner with two other striking evils: abuse and neglect.  Adults who are stressed because of impoverishment abuse children and one another; often they have grown up in an environment of abuse and the cycle seems never ending.

Neglect likely comes from as a result of self-preservation.  However hard and unkind it seems to us from other vantage points, many neglect those who need them in order to provide for themselves.  Again, the cycle is vicious with neglected children growing up only to neglect their own offspring in a similar fashion.  The hard truth is many have never known any better and few possess the tools – emotionally and intellectually – to remove themselves from the situation or to better it.

Yes, poverty, abuse, and neglect steal innocence away far too soon.  Yes, it’s a dire situation, and yes, it will never completely end.

It is our duty as blessed outsiders looking in to lend a hand whenever someone will take it, to teach whenever one will allow himself to learn, and make a difference when we can, even if it is one life at a time.  Ignoring doesn’t make the problem go away.  It multiplies it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The fatherless epidemic

When most people think of the word epidemic they think of diseases like cancer and AIDS. These are incredibly damaging diseases, to be sure, but there’s one epidemic that has been  increasing rapidly over the last few decades, and that is the epidemic of fatherless children.
The fact is that in poor, developing countries like Honduras but also in first world countries like the United States and France, there is an ever growing population of children that are growing up in homes without fathers. One problem that is compounding the epidemic is that, in many circles, it can be politically incorrect to talk about fatherlessness as, for some people, it’s akin to saying that a one parent home is inferior to a two-parent home. (In many cases it simply is.)
No matter what your opinion, the simple truth is that nearly every social problem in every culture around the world, from poverty to violent crime, suicides to school shootings, fatherlessness is either a contributing factor or the root cause. Not only that but fatherlessness is now growing completely out of control, literally destroying our society and causing huge social problems across the globe.
The reason is simple; more than just a ‘second adult’, an involved, caring and nurturing  father brings many other important benefits to a child that no other adult can replace. A father’s influence can and will have a direct and lasting impact on the life of a child and, without that influence, the results can be  severe and quite shocking.
Fatherlessness is a problem for both male and female children, of course, but in fact many of the biggest problems in the United States, as well as other countries, are caused by boys growing up without fathers. Take a look at the statistics below if you don’t believe that statement.
In the United States today, boys who grew up without their fathers are responsible for;
·       Over 60% of all rapes.
·       63% of suicides.
·       Over 70% of long-term prison inmates.
·       70% of high school dropouts.
·       Over 85% of juvenile detainees
In Honduras these statistics are even higher, unfortunately. The vast majority of Honduras’ homeless children get the food that they eat out of rotten, nasty dumpsters, oftentimes staying there all day long and scavenging for food, clothing and other items as it gets thrown away. Since they don’t go to school and have practically nothing else to keep them busy during the long, hot days, many spend most of their time smoking cigarettes, huffing paint thinner and getting high on whatever drugs are available.
Even when there are schools available, many of them are located in areas that are so dangerous that the police don’t even go in on patrol. In these areas the children are left to  fend for themselves and many turn to theft and prostitution to survive. By the time the majority of these children turn 18 years of age they have absolutely no social tools or physical skills that they can use to better themselves, a fact that simply increases the amount of criminality and prostitution that they become involved in down the road.
It’s certainly not a problem in Honduras alone. In developing countries around the world approximately 130,000,000 children under 17 years of age have lost their father and, in many cases, their mother as well. Nearly 20% of these children are forced to work in child labor situations, where they are exposed to multiple dangers.
Upon hearing all of this information, the first thing that most people asking is simply this; why? Why is it that a father’s influence is so important on a child, especially a boy child? It’s an excellent question, to be sure, and it’s possible that some of the answers may startle you.
First, it has been noted that one of the most important types of influence a father will have under child is actually indirect. The reason why is that much of the influence the father has over child is due to the relationship that the father has with the child’s mother. When a child is in a home where a father has an excellent and respectful relationship with the mother, that father is much more likely to be involved with their children, spend plenty of time with them and show them that he cares. This of course will positively affect the child both emotionally and psychologically.
Of similar importance of course is the affirmation that her mother feels when her husband is happy in their relationship and happy with his children. In this situation both parents will be more affectionate, responsive to their children and more confident, factors that have positive long-term effects on any child.
When it comes to education and achieving success, it has been shown time and time again that children who have involved, caring fathers do much better in school and in life. There have even been studies that have shown that children who have been involved with a nurturing and caring father actually end up having higher IQs, better linguistic skills and stronger cognitive capabilities. It is also been shown that these children are more patient, handle stress better and achieve faster than children who are fatherless.
It is also been shown that children who grow up in a household where there is an involved father will be more emotionally secure, more confident in who they are and will have much better communication skills with their parents, teachers and their peers. Statistically speaking, a child who grows up in a family with a caring father is much less likely to get in trouble at home or at school.
This positive influence extends well beyond adolescence and into adulthood. There have been numerous studies that have found that children who grow up with an active, nurturing father go on to become adults with superior verbal skills, above-average intellect and also above average academic achievement. It is also been shown that a child is 43% more likely to get mostly A’s in school if the father is present and attentive while they are growing up.
As far as boys are concerned, the fact is that in order to truly become a man a boy must have a man’s influence in their life and, in most cases, that man will be their not only their father but several men. Studies have shown that, ideally, it should be a community of men who, with their combined skills life experiences, will provide a boy with a variety of male role models on which to base his choices and decisions.
Today nearly 25 million boys in the United States are growing up without a father in their household. Among minorities the problem is even worse, with nearly 40% of all Hispanics and a whopping 70% of African-American boys growing up in a home where there is no father figure available.
In many countries like Honduras, Bolivia, Haiti, India and others fathers are truly becoming an endangered species. In many of these countries when you talk to children you will hear the same sense statement; “ our father abandoned us and left us to fend for ourselves”. 
In the animal kingdom there are very few species where the father takes an active role in raising their children. This just isn’t so with humans however, and the statistics support this fact. While it is well-known that a mother’s nurturing and caring can and does have a lifelong impact on a child, a father’s influence is just as important and, for young boys, possibly even more so.
Study after study has shown that, a father spends much more of their time interacting with their infants, their preschoolers and their teenagers in a stimulating, physical and playful way. These interactions, especially for young boys, help them to learn how to regulate their feelings, their emotions and their behavior. A boy who ‘rough houses’ with his father will better learn how to deal with their aggression and their emotions so that, in the future, they can better control themselves physically when those same emotions are put to the test.
Fathers also have a great influence on the child’s feeling of independence and the way they orient themselves with the outside world. While mothers stress nurturing and caring, fathers stress achieving and winning, both of which are vitally important to a child’s mental and physical development.
At the end of the day the seriousness of this problem can’t and should not be overlooked. No matter what country a child is from or where a young boy grows up, the influence that their father can have and should have in their life cannot be taken for granted. A father, as much as a child’s mother,  will have a powerful impact on their child’s development and their future life. Many countries are finally beginning to see the importance that fathers have but the fact is that it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot more understanding to defeat this epidemic. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Child poverty and what is its effect on child education?

Child poverty is the situation where a child lives in conditions of debilitating poverty, with insufficient food, poor shelter and no healthcare.  Child poverty is found either where children are living in poor families, or in cases where children are based at orphanages with poor economic situations and a lack of basic needs.  Although child poverty is found in both developed and developing countries, it is the children in the latter that are by far worse off.  Poverty in developing countries is widespread and severe; one out of every four people lives on less than $1.25 per day. 
Children make up a significant portion of poor people in the world.  In 1997, it was recorded that 40% of the world’s poor people were children.  Approximately 2.2 billion of the world population is children.  Out of these 2.2 billion children in the world, one billion lives in poverty.  This means that child poverty affects one out of every two children.  Child poverty is a leading cause of the high child mortality rates current in the world – something that can be avoided if financial support for shelter, food and healthcare are available.  According to UNICEF, the number of children dying due to child poverty is a staggering 30,000 per day. 
Child poverty also severely affects the child’s education, as well as his or her development and ability to learn.  Research has shown that children living in persistent poverty conditions find it increasingly difficult to perform in vocabulary, reading and other cognitive skills and tasks.  Due to the lack of support for children in the average poor household where parents are predominantly concerned with finding some income and food for the table, the child is often left abandoned without support for education and learning.  When it comes to education, child poverty therefore affects the child in two ways: directly through the reduced ability to develop cognitive skills and indirectly through the lack of parental support and resources.  A UK study reported that children suffering from child poverty will lag behind in all phases of his or her education.  Throughout a child’s school years, his or her performance will be consistently lower that his or her peers that do not suffer from poverty.  And this also does not predict success for the child’s prospects as an adult. 

Early childhood development years are of utmost important for all children.  It is during these years that the child develops important skills that will assist him or her during the remainder of their lives.  Quality education is a guaranteed solution to end the poverty cycle – but with child poverty causing children to continuously lag behind and perform poorly at education tasks, the one key solution to ending poverty is in fact weakened.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Relationship between Poverty and Exploitation

According to the UN, poverty is the severe and intense deprivation of “basic human needs,” including (but not limited to) sanitation, safe water, food, general health, access to information, and educational opportunities. For this reason, poverty, while income-related, has just as much to do with a lack of access to necessary services like schools and medical care.  Based on this definition, the connection between poverty and exploitation is not a difficult one to trace.
Developing or third-world nations are frequently at the center of debates regarding poverty-based exploitation, debates that usually focus on the role these countries play in the global economy.  Economically depressed countries frequently become the site of manufacturing facilities, built by Western-based multinational corporations, seeking to lower costs.  These operations are referred to as “sweat shops” because of the harmful working conditions and excessively long-hours workers face. In addition, these companies frequently commit human rights violations, exploiting workers with unsafe and potentially fatal working conditions.
Another exploitive industry born out of poverty is human trafficking.  Human trafficking recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, or receives persons by means of threat, force, coercion, deception, abduction, and/or fraud.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), some 2.5 million people are victimized by human trafficking each year.  Sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labour (18%).  The rise in human trafficking has been sourced to poverty in three ways.  First, the past 30 years have seen a rapid, unchecked population increase without corresponding economic opportunities.  This has created a global labor market flooded with desperate and impoverished people.  Second, is modern agriculture.  Factory farms dispossess traditional farmers; this forces already poor farmers into debt.  Because rural communities are already known for poverty based upon lack of educational opportunities and information, this makes dispossessed agricultural families targets for trafficking.  Last, changes in the global economy have given rise to the development of organized crime.  Organized crime is the primary perpetrator of human trafficking, and its strength and development result from (as well as create) the weakening of social values that once acted to protect even the most vulnerable members of at-risk communities.