Boston: Nov.21, 2016: My recent post in PsychologyToday.com begins: “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” It is prominently highlighted in a Children’s Defense Fund report (CDF) report. With the unfolding of events since the election, this quote is a reminder to pause and think about children in this society.
A convergence of events and words from three people compelled me to express my concerns about the plight of so many children today in our country and children around the world.
- Hillary Clinton speaking at the Children’s Defense Fund reminded us that “our children are worth it.”
- Benedict Cumberbatch, at the end of the National Theatre film production of Hamlet, implored us to consider the plight of Syrian refugees.
- Olivia Kate Cerrone, a university colleague and author of The Hunger Saint, pointed out in a recent article that children today are enslaved for pennies a day sewing the clothes we wear that are made in foreign nations.
I wrote on November 20, that Universal Children’s’ Day was established “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.” Are we taking this seriously enough? (2)
Look at what is happening in the US alone. The APA has pointed out poverty rates in terms of racial and ethnic disparities. For black children, 38.2 percent; for Hispanic children, 32.3 percent; for non-Hispanic White children, 17 percent; and for Asian children, 3 percent. They noted that the National Center for Children in Poverty reports that 17.2 million children living in the US have a foreign-born parent, and 4.2 million children of immigrant parents are poor. (3)
According to the CDF statistics from 2003, “One child or teen dies from a gun every 3 hours and 28 minutes. Every 35 seconds a child dies of abuse and neglect. (4) This is shameful.
Hillary Clinton pointed out in her recent CDF speech the need for bipartisanship, advocacy, volunteerism and investing in the children of the United States — no matter their race, religion or immigration status. “America is worth it. Our children are worth it,” she said. “Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.” (5)
Benedict Cumberbatch, who pleaded directly with the audience at the end of the film Hamlet, pointed to a link www.savethechildren.org.uk/ at the bottom of the screen. And as I saw at the theater last evening, he quoted a line from “a poem called Homeby Somali poet Warsan Shire:
“No one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” (6)
Olivia Kate Cerrone explained to me and some of our other colleagues, “I wrote this piece on ‘Lessons from History’ for Huffington Post to help foster a greater awareness over the ongoing global issue of child labor abuse and its unfortunate historical context, highlighting the story of the carusi, the child miners of Sicily, as an example.”
Today as we look at plans for immigrants being bandied about by the incoming regime, let us remember that millions of us came from immigrant families. Children in our own country are suffering physically and emotionally. Perhaps if we opened our hearts to others, a universal consciousness of caring will envelope us and help us realize that embracing all children and families from all ethnic backgrounds is our ethical and moral responsibility.
Copyright 2016 Rita Watson