Protection for children is a two part process
Around our vast, diverse, ever-changing world, it is clear that the violent threats suffered by young people are wide-ranging and differ by region, class, religion and sex. For example, it's almost impossible to compare the issues facing a child soldier in Asia with the concerns of a European girl facing violent discrimination.
Even so, there are ways that local and foreign Non-Governmental Organizations can improve the lives of all young victims of violence. NGOs need to protect these children and advocate on their behalf, while still allowing them to participate in the process.
No child deserves to be used as a pawn in the wars and conflicts of the older generations. Because children are the future, now is the time to take concrete steps towards ensuring that we, young people, grow up happy, healthy and free from violence.
The way I see it, the issue of violence must be dealt with by NGOs on two different levels; the macro and the micro. Violence in each country or state has to be looked at first as a whole, and then broken down and examined on a smaller, more individual level.
On the Macro level, NGOs must work with the governments or rulers of the countries to create and implemental effective laws that will protect children against violence.
Charities and child right's groups are likely to be the most aware of the pressing issues surrounding children and violence. Therefore, they have a responsibility to inform and educate others. These NGOs must focus on broad regulations dealing with issues such as creating specific compensations, both monetary and structurally, for war injured children.
In places in the Global North, court systems have the opportunity to actively work to protect children's rights and make sure that any laws against violence are actually put into practice. However, in many countries in the Global South, the court systems aren't as developed so the challenges of reform are more difficult.
On the Micro level, two words come to mind: YOUTH INVOLVEMENT. Who understands violence better than the youth who experience it?
Youth involvement is important for self-empowerment. Given a chance, young people can come up with solutions that work best for them. For example, children involved in criminal bands should be asked what resources, emotional or physical help they need in order to leave their gangs.
Perhaps this will mean creating a community center where they can hang out and participate in safe activities after school. Or it may mean finding them a job where they can earn enough money to be independent. Either way, the solution is catered to the individual's situation.
In the end, young people are our hope. NGOs can be the means for these children to realize their ideas and dreams. Just as important as the money and resources that NGOs offer is the emotional support they can provide, along with a will the dedication to change the direction of these children's lives.
Clearly there is still so much to be done, but we can't let this discourage us. Each person has the power to work for a better world, whether that means helping themselves or helping others.
When governments, NGO, and children themselves work together, as equal partners combating violent threats again children, then we will truly be doing all that we can.
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Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002
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