I attended a very interesting session yesterday at the National College of Ireland on child protection policies. This related to the about-to-appear Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, and the fact that the College has a significant number of under-18-year-old students, as well as programs for area children.
There were disturbing stories in the session about recent abuse cases, and also complex accounts of how Ireland is advancing its child protection policies. The latter included issues such as reconciling the constitution’s protection of family rights with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention asserts that every child has basic rights, including the rights to live, to express opinions, to be protected from abuse, and to privacy. There were practical tips offered on what to do when observing a situation in which children’s rights were violated as when they are forced to beg on the streets.
Participating in the session reminded me that 193 nations have ratified the UN Convention, while only two have not–Somalia and the United States. The turmoil in Somalia makes it a special case, which might be excused. But the US should have been the leader, not the wayward one. It’s sad to imagine John Lennon, standing on the other side saying, “We hope someday you’ll join us” and not being able to do so.