How do children and teenagers call for peace?
The troubled world makes us think about sustainable solutions for a more peaceful and safe environment and life. Not only the Non-Governmental Organizations, governments, and professionals initiate movements for peace, but also inexperienced children, teenagers, and students. Young people, need to be protected as soon as possible against any threat to their development, well-being, safety, school hood. Officially, some texts are supposed to protect them but practically, too many of them still suffer from lack of security during their childhood.
November 20, 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. November 20, 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Rights of the Child. November 20, 2018, there are still a lot of inequalities between children, according to their race, language, sex, religion, political, social or national origin, property, birth or another status.
But on the 20 of November, this year, like each previous and hopefully each next year, we keep celebrating children’s innocence, creativity, and power, and we keep fighting for improving their rights. This year, the hashtag #GoBlue was leading the campaign and most of the influencers or interested in the cause posted photos in blue wore blue. Even the most famous monuments, from NYC to Petra turned blue to support all children in the world.
Now, which rights do children have? In the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the following statements are written. This list is non-exhaustive. Every child, from his or her birth, should be named and provided with a nationality. The child should be protected before and after his/her birth and should obtain care, protection, right to recreation, nutrition, housing, and medical services. A child with particular conditions shall be given the required treatments and education. A child shall not be separated from his/her mother.
Education should be accessible to every child, in order for everyone to develop his/her abilities, critical thinking, and social responsibility. In addition to this, every child shall be free from exploitation and traffic and all other forms of neglect. Everyone should be raised in a spirit of tolerance, friendship, and universal brotherhood in order to avoid situations of racial, religious discriminations, or other forms of it. In brief, every child has the right to be entitled with a name and nationality, to be safe and secure, in accordance with the seven following pillars: nomic, food, health, environment, personal, community and political security.
To improve children’s rights, a Dutch organization called Kids Rights created the International Children’s Peace Prize. It aims to reward the best children’s initiative of the year, in terms of fighting for peace, and for more children’s rights. It also gives more visibility to these initiatives and to the power, intelligence and ingenuity of young people all over the globe. Thanks to this prize, the message reaches millions of people in the world. The founders of this prize are convinced that guaranteeing children’s right passes by the call and action of children themselves.
This year, among 109 nominees, 3 finalists were chosen: Moni Begum, the 17 years old girl from Bangladesh, fighting against child marriage, the 4 young initiators of March For Our Lives, from the USA, calling for safer schools and communities, and Leilua Lino, an 18 years old girl from Samoa denouncing child abuse. Moni, touched by the early marriage of her older sister with an older man who abused her sexually and physically, decided to create an association in the north of Bangladesh. The Child Marriage Eradication Club does prevention and offers financial support to families for their daughter to study. She strongly believes that education will be more useful than an early marriage.
March for Our Lives was initiated by David, Emma, Jaclyn, and Matt, from Florida. After a school shooting in their establishment, producing 17 fatal casualties, they decided to create a March to denounce gun violence and call for safer spaces for youth. Thanks to their way to communicate on the issue, 800 sister march were organized. Leilua, raped by her father at the age of 9, is an Ambassador for Peace. She created «peace gardens» on her campus to help abused children to talk. She is an inspiration for many of them to denounce and report their abuse. She assumes, «I share the gift with the abused children of Samoa by being their voice».
On the 20 of November, the initiators of «March for Our Lives» won the Peace Prize. It is not only a victory for the four individuals and their creation but for all children and youth in the world who were/are the victim or threatened by an unsafe community or school and where governments are failing to re-establish order and peace. March for Our Live is defined as a changemaker organization, with «unshakable belief, that children, can, no must, change their own futures». These initiatives have proven that we can fight against gun violence without violence.
After having been a witness of extreme violence, seeing themselves and their comrades freaking and running out for their lives, while a former student was shooting in the classrooms, they decided to fight non-violently for their right to be free from fear and violence in the school. They discussed, questioned, organized marches, they motivated thousands of young people to register to vote and traveled from town to town to hold town hall rallies.
The harmony and strength of the group succeeded in raising awareness, even for the government: since their existence, the American state has already taken measures and voted 50 pieces of legislation in favor of the cause. Kids Rights enable them to make young initiatives visible. Instead of restraining children’s speech, let us give them the tool and the right to lead their fight. Children have ideas. Children have knowledge. Children are credible. They just need to be empowered.