If we want to create the Beloved Community, we must properly care for and nurture our children - all our children.
The abuse and neglect of children is a serious problem in the United States and throughout the world. According to the Children's Defense Fund, over 18% of America's children lived in poverty in 2006. In several states, over 25% of the children live in poverty. Many of these children, especially poor children of color, will eventually end up in prison. The Children's Defense Fund calls this the "cradle to prison pipeline."
The Beloved Community Project is devoted to changing this situation by supporting projects and organizations which focus on the welfare of children.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
To provide additional protection to the children of the world, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989. It has been ratified by every nation of the world except Somalia and the United States. It applies to people who are under 18 years of age.
Some highlights of the Convention are as follows:
- States Parties (nations) must ensure that all children within their jurisdiction enjoy their rights. No child should suffer discrimination. This applies to every child irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
- When the authorities of a State make decisions which affect children, the best interests of the children must be a primary consideration.
- Every child has the inherent right to life, and States shall ensure survival and development.
- State Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
- Children should be free to have opinions in all matters affecting them, and those views should be given due weight in accordance the age and maturity of the child.
- State Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who has care of the child.
- Children shall not be separated from their parents, except by competent authorities for their well-being.
- Parents have the primary responsibility for a child's upbringing, but states shall provide them with appropriate assistance and develop child-care institutions.
- States shall provide parentless children with suitable alternative care.
- Disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care.
- Children are entitled to the highest attainable standard of health. States shall ensure that health care is provided to all children.
- State Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to the preparation of the child for a responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace , tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all people, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.
- Discipline in schools shall respect a child's dignity.
- Children shall have time to rest and play and equal opportunities for culture and artistic activities.
- States shall protect children from economic exploitation and from work that may interfere with their education or be harmful to their health or well-being.
- States shall protect children from the illegal use of drugs and involvement in drug production or trafficking.
- State parties shall undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, including prostitution and pornography. All efforts shall be made to eliminate the abduction and trafficking of children.*
- No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18.
- No child under the age of 15 shall take part in hostilities.* Children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection.
- State Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention.....
- States shall facilitate family reunification by permitting travel into, and out of, their territories.
- Children of minorities and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own culture, religion and language.
- Children who have suffered mistreatment neglect or exploitation shall receive appropriate treatment for recovery and rehabilitation.
- Children involved in infringement of the penal law shall be treated in a way that promotes their sense of dignity and worth and aims at reintegrating them into society.
* In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly adopted two Optional Protocols to provide additional protection of children. One Optional Protocol focuses on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The other Optional Protocol establishes 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment into the military. The U.S. has ratified these two protocols.