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Children and our responsibilities

by Sarah Alam, Pakistan

Education is the key element in helping children

Children are the purest essence of the human soul. But due to various reasons, the lives of children have become miserable. Their carefree nature is robbed by the ones in command of their lives.

The best stage of life is childhood which is very easily taken away from the children by forcing them into labour, prostitution, sexual abuse, indulging them in terrorist activities, by closing the doors of education to them, by deliberately misleading them - that is brain storming wrong thoughts in their mind - and so on...

Experiences of poverty, hardships, discrimination, abuse, complexes and that not at the very onset of their lives have an adverse effect on their personality and therefore give rise to terrorists, thieves, murderers, beggars etc. Whatever the reason may be for such deplorable conditions of children, it is however the responsibility of each and every one of us to help these misfortunate children.

In every country, there are several private and government organizations that are working to help the children who are not fortunate to experience the joys of life. The NGOs or agencies need to take some steps as the rate of children suffering from various traumas is increasing day by day. The agencies and NGOs need to adapt certain measures to completely eradicate child labour etc. The first and major step towards the improvement of the lives of children is to provide free education to them. Better schooling may help them in acknowledging their rights and striving in attaining their share of life.

It is also required that parents should also be educated because education broadens vision. Educated parents are able to provide better living to their children. To provide education to all, free schooling is required. It is not only the government's responsibility to set up free educational institutions but private organizations and agencies can also set up small institutions where children can be taught the basic principles of education. This can be done by fundraising.

Another element that has been a thorn in the lives of children is child labour. This menace is very common in underdeveloped countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Egypt, Gulf States etc. Child labour needs to be removed from its roots which have been burrowed deep down. In fighting child labour each and every one needs to put his share and help the government and other agencies. Education plays an important role everywhere; however large families, unemployment, poverty too play an important role. Child labour can be removed by adoption of several measures. The main thing that needs to be done by the NGO's/organization is to make the people aware of the importance of family planning as population is increasing day by day. Therefore unemployment is on its peak and as a result the economic development of various countries is inhibited resulting in the devaluation of money making it impossible for a single person to feed a dozen people. In this regard, organizations can run programs through which they can door to door send people to learning lessons regarding the importance of family planning and education. This can solve the problem of child labour to some extent. Another measure that can be taken by the agencies is to set up small loan schemes to help the people who cannot afford to provide food and education to their children. Other measures that can be taken to improve the conditions of working children are to eliminate harsh working conditions; child workers, their parents and employers must be educated about their rights and laws, gradual reduction in working hours, and the older children should be allowed to work but with limited hours and with time for education and some leisure.

Children and their parents must be convinced of the need for education and access to education should be improved, educational incentives - like children can play and study along with work - must be provided, younger children - up to the age of nine years - ought to be removed from work and admitted to primary schools, micro credit be provided to the families so that they can break the cycle and shackle of debt with loan sharks and shopkeepers. Anomalies in laws regarding children must be removed, working children should be paid more so that they can earn more by working less, time for education and leisure should be guaranteed by law.

Apart from child labour, family problems such as separation of parents or strained relationships between parents also result in demolishing the personality of a child. Often these children suffer from mental disorders, their minds refuse to acknowledge the importance of education and hence these children grow up with certain deformities in their personalities. To safe the children from these cruel realities it is required to set up institutions where parents should be taught to bring up a child and frame the personality of children without the agony of the separated parents. Boarding schools and hostels should be made to allocate the children away from home so that they can provide them a peaceful atmosphere and save them from tragedies. Organizations can also ensure that in case of separation of parents, the children remain with the parent who can safeguard the interest of the children.

There are several factors that affect the lives of children and NGOs can do their best in saving the children from landmines, minority persecution etc. NGOs can set up small hospitals where children suffering from disabilities due to war injuries can be cured. These hospitals can be built by raising funds, by doing concerts and galas, by placing advertisements for donations.

There are several doctors that work for the welfare of people. These doctors can be appointed to run these hospitals. There are several pharmaceutical companies that can provide free medications or medicines at low rates. If all these steps are taken the children that suffer from diseases and disorders due to war can be cured free of cost.

These days, involvement of children with criminal gangs and religious extremist groups is taking its toll. Often parents send their children to religious institutions where instead of being taught religious teachings they are brainstormed with wrong concepts in the name of religion thus filling their minds with hatred and violent thoughts leading them to commit terrorist acts and suicides. This leads to the loss of several lives, money, reputation of a country and disrespect of religions and of the people who belong to that particular religions. Governments and NGOs need to work side by side in saving the children from these groups. This can be done by identifying institutions and gangs that are working wholeheartedly in destroying the lives of children; strict rules and laws should be adapted to punish those who are found guilty of these acts. Certain institutions should be set up to provide religious education and it should be ensured that proper religious teachings are given to the children. Programs and seminars should be held where parents should be invited and should be given lectures regarding the bringing up of children. Severe laws regarding criminal acts should be adopted. Human rights organizations should also work for the recovery of children from dangerous groups.

Sexual abuse is the worst problem that children are encountering these days. Often children are unaware of what sexual abuse is and they are abused sexually in their ignorance. The aftermath of this abuse later dawns on them and are therefore abandoned by their families. These children are landed on streets and face the harsh realities of life. What needs to be done is parents should be made to help these children instead of abandoning them. Proper classes should be held to help the parents and children to solve sexual abuse. Also, all parents need to be given lessons to protect their children from sexual abuse. Parents should be made to realize that if a child suffers from sexual abuse that child should be taken to doctors and should be treated as a normal child. NGOs can play vital role in saving the children from sexual abuse. There are several measures that can be adopted such as providing learning classes for children and parents to make them aware of what can lead to sexual abuse. NGOs can also help the children suffering from sexual abuse by providing medical, financial and moral aid.

There are several measures that can be adopted by organizations to improve the lives of children. What one needs to realize is to take a stand and help the ones suffering. Even an individual can set up an organization to help the children with his/her limited means. Education is the key element in helping children. The first step that needs to be taken is to provide education free of cost. For this purpose small schools institutions and schools should be set up.

If the NGOs are able to educate and feed the children the conditions of children can be improved to some extent.

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