Child Rights Essay Competition

“Extinguishing the Flames of Child Trafficking” by Nafisa Uddin

2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 3rd Place, Group 1 (Grades 5-8)

Nafisa Uddin – Tampa, FL / Williams Middle Magnet IB School

Nafisa UddinSlavery has been banned in the United States of America for a long time, unlike in several developing countries. Countries such as India, Bangladesh, and Cote d’Ivoire use child trafficking to force children to work in dangerous environments as child slaves. Child trafficking has become a worldwide concern in the past few years. The victims of child trafficking are not only subjected to harsh living environments and inhumane treatments, but they also endure backbreaking work as well. They do not receive medical care, access to education, or basic survival needs. The United Nations stated that they would minimize the amount of children trafficked by the beginning of this year, but have failed. Other than the UN, other smaller organizations such as DCI, Polaris, and ABC Nepal are working in efforts to stop child trafficking. The problem is so enormous that individuals support for these organizations can help take small steps to bring the demise of this treacherous deed. The world needs to become aware and engage with the problem of child trafficking and actively seek new solutions to stop this heinous crime.

Child trafficking needs to be stopped, but what exactly is it? In order to stop child trafficking, we must become aware of what this atrocity is. Child trafficking is the illegal movement of children, typically for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation. Child trafficking is a practice that therefore violates several Human Rights as established by the United Nations. The website http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx contains the official Child Human Rights and in Article 25, it perspicuously states, “States Parties recognize the right of a child who has been placed by the competent authorities for the purposes of care, protection or treatment of his or her physical or mental health, to a periodic review of the treatment provided to the child and all other circumstances relevant to his or her placement.” Child trafficking occurs in several developing countries, although less serious forms occur in the USA. Child trafficking is usually practiced by raiders or cheap businesses who don’t want to hire and pay adults for work. Some examples of child trafficking are children who work in the garment factories of Bangladesh.

So, how does this treacherous deed scar the victims for life? Victims of child trafficking are denied their basic natural rights. They don’t have the right to live in the pursuit of happiness amongst others. Children don’t receive promised education or basic survival needs such as clean water, rational amount of food, or medical attention. If a victim is sick, they just have to live with it. Not only that, but they have to exceed the expectations of their masters at all costs in order to avoid punishments. Nor are these punishments light, they can often kill the children. Statistics from a report in Congo show that almost 60% of the group of trafficked children had injuries, sickness, or saw a fellow trafficked victim die. After this experience, these children have had such a traumatic time that they are often never the same again.

Child trafficking isn’t a simple problem that occurs for one reason, it occurs for several different ones. One of the main reasons is that developing countries have a broken economy and/or government that uses trafficked children as a source to rebuild. Some of those children oblige as there is barely a source of income for their own families or access to education. Often, child trafficking occurs because the government has just ended a long Civil War and there are still raiders or small groups of enemies in their midst. We see an example of this in Congo where children are trafficked to become child soldiers in order to fight against occasional group of raiders. These kids are around 6 to 11 years old and have to learn how to shoot people dead. Because they are learning how to kill at such a young age, many of these children are psychologically scarred and as a result are sometimes diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their tender youth. The website https://www.warchild.org.uk/issues/effects-war-children has an entire section devoted to this. It summarizes that children do not understand what war exactly is, and this young killing can in turn make them anti-social and turn to alcohol and drugs.

Putting an end to child trafficking isn’t completely hopeless. Programs such as UNICEF are making efforts to end child trafficking. The UN is trying to find out more about this problem and come up with newer and more effective solutions. DCI raises money to find foster families so children vulnerable to being trafficked are given protection. These children also receive education and essential needs. Smaller organizations such as Polaris and ABC Nepal fund to help stop child trafficking in specific regions. Famous author J.K. Rowling of the renowned Harry Potter series has also started a charity which funds to help kids read and avoid this type of disastrous circumstance to which they have to succumb to. Although several economies defend the fact that child trafficking stimulate the financial growth of the country, it really doesn’t. The website http://www.goodweave.org/child_labor_campaign/child_labor_handmade_rugs_carpets states, “… it also depresses the economy. A study by the ILO found that it would cost $760 billion to end child trafficking, but the benefits to the economy would be more than six times that—an estimated $5.1 trillion in economies…” Stopping child trafficking would rather drive the economy to success. Individuals themselves can help fight for this cause by donating or raising awareness about this worldwide problem.

One a final note, child trafficking is an incriminating practice that exploits children in every way, shape, and form and needs to be stopped. Innocent victims are deprived of basic human rights because the government is crumbling. It is time to end child trafficking by standing abreast with others and other organizations. The world will always be full of turmoil and conflict, but it is our job to extinguish those flames before they engulf us to the point that all hopes for solutions are lost.

Bibliography

  1. “Convention on the Rights of a Child”. Convention on the Rights of a Child. http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx August 31st, 2015.
  2. Unknown. Unknown. https://www.warchild.org.uk/issues/effects-war-children. September 1st, 2015
  3. “Goodweave”. Child Labor and the Rug Industry. http://www.goodweave.org/child_labor_campaign/child_labor_handmade_rugs_carpets. September 10th, 2015

“It’s All Coming Back to Me” by Chideraa Obidi

2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 3rd Place, Group 1 (Grades 5-8)

Chideraa Obidi – Nkpor, Nigeria / Winners International School

Chideraa Obidi

There is another bombing in the news. Children and helpless women died in their numbers. Government wants to put it to a stop, but not through dialogue, but guns and bombs. They have sent an air-raid and from a distance they have killed from the air. More deaths were recorded, yet they were wives and children of the evil bombers.

Amanda died also in the bombing. It was a bombing on a Christmas day. I was grieving. I have lost a good friend. Still grieving the loss, still seeing more deaths. Peace was what I wanted, but I was afraid. I have consistently noted the ominous trend of world events and wondered about my very existence. Our leaders, our parents, adults, all and all, don’t care about us. They have made us see more than our eyes can see and made us witness what we should not have.

I have lived all my life with people who shared different religion and cultures with me. Some of these people I meet and mixed with everyday were childhood friends. We meet in school as classmates. We meet in streets as neighbors. We meet playgrounds as friends. They became to us people we could not live without. It was not as though, we have not heard our parents discuss negative things about them. They were called pagans and killers. They were called extremist and fanatics. I called them friends and neighbors. They were friends. Despite the seed of hatred and things said by my parents which I assumed as lies, we refused to be enemies.

Things took a different shape sometime later when we heard rumors of fighting. I would not be harmed, I thought. They would not be harmed, my friends also thought. Yet, a day we hated to see came. It was on a Christmas morning. December 25, 2011. It was a day of horror, a day of anguish, and a day of storm for many Christians in Northeast Nigeria, when some religious nuts attacked worshipers in the church and killed tens of innocent men and women and their children. Some of these ones were also classmates, friends and playmates. This act was carried out by people we never knew could. This was vile act of raw hatred, unjustifiable by any rational thought, but perpetuated anyway in the name of God.

It gives us great concern and makes us lose sleep in most hours of the night on the raw hatred and extinction which many children and helpless women faces in Nigeria in the last three years or more. I wonder. We may not have any excuse for future generation.

Christmas that year was not as festive as it used to and our Muslim friends sympathized with us. Soon we resumed for the new school term and we all came back and mourned our friends that the killings claimed. They were very understanding and we lived as though nothing happened.

Even after three years, our closeness had deepened. We refused to be enemies. We need peace and we want to live in a peaceful society. We know that for this to be possible, we should learn to appreciate and respect others irrespective of religious affiliation. This we have come to learn over time. In as much as we can, we have worked to transform the life of every individual that walks through our doors, in our classrooms and streets leaving a lasting impression in their memories to live with. We have refused to be misguided and misinformed about our friends because they are different from us.

Throughout history different elements operated at different times to provide an anchor, an amalgam, a source of unity for societies and history says so. There were family bonds, great monarchs, great empires, the world’s great religions and, in modern times, political ideologies and they were here to make us feel. Today none of these factors seems strong enough to hold societies in check or to unite nations and peoples in peace. She was thinking all the more so.

She sits and watches their world slipping into the void of death as if no one has the power to stop it. Every day I listen to radio news about more killing outside my country. I cannot comprehend why the fighting, killings and bombings. We should have loved. We are either black or which, Christian or pagan, man or woman. There should not have been a reason to hate or to kill. It makes me feel bad.

I wait for the sign telling me that I will one day be able to breathe and see without the smog of fear filling my throat and stinging my eyes. I wait for the people who hold my world’s fate to tell me that I have the right to grow up, to marry and to have children who will not live in such a place, who will not be afraid of losing even this nightmare world before they have known it. I wait to have children sing in the air with the birds and stand still for a moment for fallen heroes and children who fought with us, who never live to see this day. I wait to see a world where I will no longer fear or be hated or be judged. I want a free world, where I will live in the comfort of love ones, in their arms and sing with them.

I want to face tomorrow when our children will look into our eyes and tell us that we have brought them into the world. A peaceful world where peace will be a global slogan is possible tomorrow as it starts today. We know that by showing love and reciprocity, understanding and solidarity, we join hands in support of one another and make the world a theatre of peace, a world free from hatred, prejudice and wars. We have started here and wish to share this to children of the world.

“Lift Our Children Above Malaria’s Burden” by Sonia Chiamaka Okorie

2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 3rd Place, Group 3 (College/University Students)

Sonia Chiamaka Okorie – Chestnut Hill, MA / Boston College

Sonia Chiamaka OkorieMalaria is a devastating example of the way the interconnected web of health, education, nutrition, and socioeconomic status takes a toll on the most vulnerable people. This tightly coiled web is the reason the disease continues to take the lives of mothers, brothers, and sisters, despite its preventability. When we attempt to grasp the extent of its mortality, it becomes obvious who bears the heaviest burden: children. When a child falls ill with malaria and is unable to be treated, it is as if the web tightens across their limbs, impeding their movement towards academic success and economic improvement.

It is crucial to focus on children because they are biologically more susceptible to malaria. In high-transmission areas, for example, children do not yet have the partial immunity of adults, so there are more cases of severe malaria and rapid progression to death (“Malaria in Children”). Children are also more likely to develop anemia, hypoglycemia, and cerebral malaria than adults (“Malaria in Children”). Their sensitivity to malaria is evident in statistics; malarial mortality and morbidity rates are higher for children than any other population affected. Malaria is more than a biological problem however, its breadth encompasses the education and economic success of children.

Think of a sick child as one less student. Repeated infections of malaria cause absenteeism that hinders the ability to succeed alongside healthy classmates. A severe case of malaria can cause neurological and cognitive damage in children, which impedes their education, reduces their career opportunities, and lowers productivity in adult age (“Annual Report 2013”). Across malaria-stricken regions, lost job and school days lead to lower productivity and prevention of communities from prevailing over poverty (“Annual Report 2013”). Malaria may also exacerbate other diseases, such as diarrhea, or cause anemia. A child, therefore, is likely to suffer from co-morbidities that delay their recovery. It is unacceptable for malaria to rob a student’s education. Without academic advancement, a child has limited opportunity to gain personal and economic independence.

Think of a sick child as one less worker. Malaria affects people across the socioeconomic scale but is most devastating on those who are poor. Impoverished people cannot typically access funds to purchase preventative vaccines or nets, and they are unable to afford clinical treatment if they develop the disease. A sick child becomes one less source of income, and can also cause a parent to leave work so they can serve as a caregiver. If a child experiences repeated infections, the economic consequences are grave. Malaria is more than a disease, it is embedded in a cycle that allows a repetitive oppression of the weakest.

To break this cycle, public health leaders have monumental obstacles to overcome. According to the World Health Organization, Africa alone has 90% of all malaria-related deaths, and 77% of these deaths are in children aged under five years old (“Annual Report 2013”). 77% is an overwhelming percentage, which makes it tempting to address the problem simply as a number that needs to be reduced. To connect with the gravity of malarial death, however, a child cannot be reduced to a statistic. Public health stems from a fundamental understanding that care encompasses more than the life of one child; the benefits extend to their mothers, fathers, and countries. Rather than being intimidated by the work to be done, public health leaders have to ask themselves, if not children, then who? Who will be the next generation of nurses and teachers? Who will lead the development of the nation?

We change the future of our children by empowering them. We teach them about symptoms and bednets. We provide free or subsidized healthcare for them and their families so they receive necessary immunizations and supplements. We fund and make available health workers who can diagnose and treat malaria. Finally, we build a cross-generational and cross-traditional infrastructure to sustain our progress. By empowering mothers, village leaders, health workers, and other communally important figures, we change more than the effect of the disease; we create a cultural shift. Children are resilient, adaptable, and overflowing with potential. They are also vulnerable, dependent, and need us even more when faced with the consequences of pediatric malaria.

When I look at the global toll of this difficult, preventative disease, I pause and reflect on my role. For a long time, I understood my world as a series of similarities or dissimilarities: some people are like me, some people are unlike me. Unknowingly, I created a distance between what I perceived as ‘my world’ and ‘their world’. In the routine that our privilege affords us, it is easy to forget that every being sees the same sun risen above, and sleeps to the same, illuminated moon. Rather than building an impermeable barrier we are obliged to find the humanity in each child we see. In the words of Terentius Lucanus, “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,” meaning, “I am a human being; I consider nothing human to be foreign to me” (“Nihil Philosophicum”). When we share in the plight of our children, we adopt their pain and strive to ensure their joy. We take the most important step in public health, away from service and towards advocacy.

Bibliography

“Annual Report 2013.” Roll Back Malaria. World Health Organization, May 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.
“Malaria in Children Under Five.” WHO. World Health Organization, 6 Apr. 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.
“Nihil Philosophicum a Nobis Alienum Putamus.” ‘Maverick Philosopher’ Maverick Philosopher, 28 Dec. 2013. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.