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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 14:58 GMT
Are we failing our children?
Are we failing our children?
Are we failing our children?
As we approach the next millennium, we debated whether we are still failing to protect our children against exploitation, armed conflict, illiteracy and poverty? Does our attitude to children need to change? Or have we gone too far in our desire to protect, stifling our children's independence? But has life really improved for children in the past 10 years?

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

The programme was hosted by Robin Lustig and Sandy Walsh with the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, in the studio to answer your questions.


Your comments since the programme:

Talking Point - On Air
There is no question about the future of children in developed countries. There are some countries where people are stuck by fundamentalism, give raise to this basic question. They produce kids like pigs. They say it's because of their religion. They hate using condoms because they think it is sin. They say that the God would take care of them.
Even after seeing them by the side of a dust-bin or playing with street dogs or sleeping in the mud, they can't realise. They bring them into this world and make them to suffer. If they are referred to as 'we', yes we are failing miserably with our our own superstitions.
Sridhar, USA

I left my home and country to work and collect money for the benefit of my children. I want a better life for them, but in Iraq the education life is a disaster. l want them to live in a clean environment mentally & physically. Our family were forbidden from leaving so I had struggle a lot for this. We want to rescue our children me my brother and my husband hoping after one or two year we can bring them out of Iraq for the good life, food, and schools.
Weaam Khalid Aljabary, Amman/Jordan

A world-wide effort is required to ensure that child exploitation is halted. One example is the internet and child pornography. If child pornography is acceptable in some countries but not others the problem will continue.
Bob Atkinson, Australia

The Children of the World need food and parents. The individuals who are commenting on the future of childrens' benefits must see that the efforts to make a home have to be part of a civilised plan of government. Each government must demonstrate the will to care for the helpless.
Catharine Hannover, Reno, Nevada/USA

I believe that in today's society the children are brought up too quickly. It now takes two parents' income to support a family. Therefore children need to be taught in school common courtesy and morals. There should also be classes that teach children how to handle situations that can have a negative impact. Teach children to be positive individuals.
Neil Goodson, U.S.A.

Parents failure to enforce discipline and provide boundaries, mainly due to guilt for not spending enough time with children is having disastrous consequences. Kids grow up with resentment and anger when they are unable to cope with certain realities.
David Ree, USA

What are children at risk from? A permissive society, that insists that no subject, regardless of its content can be denied to anyone, (children included) , from any source regardless of intent.
Fred Petrozzi, U.S

We are not helping by encouraging the use of drugs, weapons and sexual language all the world. We are not listening to our own biological children - how can we even have time to help other people's displaced or refugee children. My point is that if we at least spend a little more time with our children, the crime rate WILL decrease and the insane and senseless wars going on around the world might just be reduced or possibly stopped.
Roxley, United States

Unfortunately in some countries - which have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - children still face abuse and discrimination because they fall outside the societal definitions of "childhood". If a child is forced by poverty into employment, (s)he is considered to have "lost innocence" and is excluded from the accepted definition of childhood. Employment is often the only means for children to establish a measure of independence and often to provide family support. It is not of itself, evil; those employers who would exploit children they employ are the evildoers but few developing nations do anything to punish them or bring them to reason. Forcing children out of factories by abolishing child labour often forces them into far less acceptable forms of earning money such as dealing in drugs and prostitution. These issues of the definition of childhood and of child labour are very complex and there are no easy solution - but let us not punish the children - but bring to justice those who would exploit them.
Carolyn Scott, Germany

I do not believe that I am failing my children - and have yet to read a comment here of a parent who thinks he or she is. It seems that lots of us are willing to blame others and/or society (but not ourselves) for the ills we see around us. I am convinced that most parents love their children and strive to raise them as best they can. No doubt some parents are morons, but hardly more now than 10 or 100 years ago (just fewer taboos on publicising moronic conduct!). What has changed are the demands society places on us. We must all be self-supporting and able to control our own destiny. At the same time, there's less help around than there used to be. Neighbours don't know us, parents live on the other side of the continent, friends have no time - who do we turn to when times are rough? It's a lot easier to derail your life in today's society than it was 50 years ago.
Stephen, Athens, Greece

In some countries nobody wants to hard work because when they were children they did not learn to love work. It is very important to teach children to love work.
Kali Ris, KSA

We have to stop all the pious platitudes and begin real work to stop paedophilia, and child labour in the world. Enough of talking. Let serious work begin!
Franz Wise, USA

Yes we are. No matter where on earth, we allow our children to be exploited whether it be for labour or for sex. In much of the world they are denied healthcare or education. For God's sake, they are the future of the world. Is it any wonder that there's so much conflict when so many people get such a poor start in life. Meanwhile, in the so-called 'developed world' we shamelessly exploit our children by advertising, promoting materialism above all else, pushing sex at them at incredibly young ages, failing to protect them from drugs.
Andy D, UK

The use of children in sweatshops in many countries is a breach of human civil rights, with them often receiving little or no gratitude or fulfilment. Often the problem is because their parents are poor and require money to survive, children become a means to survival. The parents often have the children to pay for their livelihood, under the false belief that more children in their family equals a higher standard of living.
Brendon and Janelle Atkinson, Western Australia

Children need love but in today's society we have no time to show them our love. It would help if women could get paid full day salaries but only work half day to then have the time to raise, guide, and love their children.
Loredana, USA

Arizona is a very rich state with huge surpluses in the coffers. In the last 2 years it has slipped 2 places in the league of Child Care from 44th to 46th. Here Tax cuts are what gets the vote, not Child Care.
Stewart, Phoenix AZ USA

People should consider it their responsibility and a moral duty to bring up a child in the most caring way. The problem in developing countries is of overpopulation which directly linked to illiteracy among women hampers any plans of introducing birth control. In the developed world abuse of children is rampant due to the lack of a kin-network to fall back on and has created uncaring and abusive parents. Seeing a malnourished child or children fighting wars is as disturbing as seeing a partially-deaf child being violently pushed down on the ground and shouted at by his harried young mother (who is pushing another child in the pram) with the bystanders turning a blind eye to the event in a busy street in Oxford. If on one hand, children are suffering from hunger in the developing world because of overpopulation, on the other in the so-called developed world, they are being abused or even killed (eg. the recent conviction of a woman solicitor for killing her two babies) by parents who have no clue about their responsibilities. Its time both parents and also single mothers in the West are taught to love their children.
Vibha Joshi, UK/India


Your comments during the programme:

I left before the war but my people were displaced. In our family of 23 brothers and sisters I'm the only one that can read and write - all because of the war.
Richard Joh, Philidelphia, USA/ Liberia

We have a lot of children here incorporated into the fighting forces. A number of children are abducted and made to kill. Children are exposed to extreme violence. We are working with children in displaced camps who are extremely traumatised. Children can recover if given time.
Sahr Ngayenga, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Children are especially vulnerable and are least able to deal with the excesses of war. Children are innocent and lose their innocence. The achievement of the convention is that it has become a universal standard. We are calling for the application of the convention by mobilising political and social movements on the ground. The responsibility for making this work begins in the family and community. In many recent wars villages have become the main theatre of conflict and soldier on civilian violence has reached an unprecedented scale.
Olara Otunnu comments

Most of the discussion is about children in wartime. But we fail our children in the West as well. We remove responsibility from children and give them freedom only to witness a loss of control daily. There's constant disrupton in the class.
Keith Scott, Chicago, USA

Rights are very important but we should know them before we can use them. There are a lot of places where you can turn to if we have any problems. It's hard for anyone to do anything unless it's by law. You're not taught this at school. Children should be able to have an education because its important for them growing up.
Jennifer Salman, London, UK

I work for a project called Twilight, working with street children in Johannesburg. It has grown from a basic street shelter to a large organised project. We've had thousands of children come into our shelter over the years. We try to trace the parents and help the families help themselvss. We also provide education and life skills training for the children. The main reason for children leaving home is poverty, unemployment, the breakdown of the family, and the abuse of children. Government support is making our job easier.
Jane Pritchard, Johannesburg, South Africa

I have freed some fifty thousand children from bonded labour and slavery over the last 20 years. When children are confined to the workplace the parents approach us and we conduct secret raids to physically rescue them. It's a risky thing and has to be very carefully organised. Indian law doesn't allow slavery but these laws are not implemented. Poverty is not responsible for child slavery, but child labour perpetuates poverty. In India 60m children are in full-time jobs - but 65m adults are jobless. It's a vicious cycle. At least the convention has given us a weapon to fight with. It's an international concern but Indian society has to take care of these things. It hasn't been able to make any change in the grass roots.
Kailash Satyarthi, Dehli, India

There is a big problem with the sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines involving some 60 to 100,000 child prostitutes. It takes many different forms and is not just in the big cities. It's not a problem only in the Philippines. The sexual use of children is happening world-wide. Our organisation ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and child pornography Trafficking) has been campaigning for 10 years for global standards. There are still some countries where child pornography is not illegal. Out of 122 governments that agreed to implement the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children only 20 countries have made plans of action. I have to raise the issue of countries with wars or discrimination of ethnic minorities such as in the Mekong area in Burma where children are still being trafficked into Thailand.
Amihan Abueva, Philippines

I work with a humanitarian organisation Doctors of the World working with children for seven years. For the last decade children have witnessed a lot of abuse. Education and health-care is being put into place now, and is one of the biggest challenges here.
Supriya Madhaven, Pristina, Kosovo

In Northern Uganda children are being abducted and some of them are still in captivity. What is Olara Otunnu doing to address this?
Susan Nganagualia, Kampala, Uganda

I have made this issue a priority. Children are suffering in Northern Uganda because of the widespread destruction and many are abducted by Ugandan insurgency groups. I have travelled to the Sudan twice to take up the issue of Sudanese children and to urge the government to facilitate contact with Ugandan children and get them released. We have had two groups of Ugandan children released from Sudan and I continue to work on this.
Olara Otunnu responds

The convention has two aspects , conflict prevention and the world economic order being given a human face. I'm a mother of four kids and I wouldn't like them to sell on the streets instead of going to school. If the world economic order is humane and the Northern hemisphere was not exploiting the Southern hemisphere parents would have more economic power and you wouldn't have children selling on the streets.
Stephania Evdoykwa, Berlin, Germany

The biggest problem is the environment we provide the child with - in the family and in the whole of society. There's more child crime happen in places like New York. There are child prostitutes in Sydney too.
Sarge Ananaza, Sydney, Australia


Your comments before we went ON AIR:

Of course we are failing our children and everyone has their own special opinion about why. But, we all know by now that this can't be changed by talking about what's wrong with society and culture in our countries. Instead of having useless talks about this in which nobody really changes their mind since people are hard-headed and don't like to be proved wrong I think we should all do something special for a kid even if it isn't ours. And, to make a difference in the way our countries are set up we must actually get off our duffs and go vote. It surprises me how many people I see complaining about my country "the U.S." and all this while they won't even get up the energy to go vote once a year. As far as I'm concerned if you can't find the time to go vote once a year you don't deserve a say in what goes on anyhow.
Sam, USA

Each Country has its own problems when coming to protect their children. The United Kingdom and France have done a reasonably good job in preventing violence (Strong Gun Control Laws). The United States have failed to do this. On poverty and health, the African and Asian Nations are failing because the birth rate is too high. They are too many people and not enough cash (Richer countries are not going to share the wealth or distribute surplus of food) for the continent to sustain. They are ways were can maintain the birth rate. First Give all Equal Rights to Women (It gives them job opportunities and from the law of economic this and other factors reduce the birth rate. Second, the countries must put a one child/one birth rule. This may seem communistic, but when populations are on the brink of a die back, then this becomes necessary.
Katrina Fair, United States

Yes! We're miserably failing our children. Is this a question to pose publicly? Look at all the warlords around the World they're manipulating the innocence of today's youths drugging them; subjecting them to senseless killings. Rebels without a cause are thriving on the children's innocence and addicting them to drugs training them to kill. Can we prepare today's children for the next millennium?
Richard D. Joh, USA

Regardless of your colour, religion, race and sex, it is common sense that when a child is exposed to armed conflict, prostitution and such like dangers, their psychological make-up is suddenly forced to grow up, contrary to its natural rate of maturity, which leaves deep scars mentally. They need a buffer zone, which can be achieved by bringing reality to their awareness gradually. However, such tender loving care is available only to those who are lucky enough. Of course most of them would be children born in the rich west countries but there are many children who earn their living as prostitutes in the USA and Europe too. But there is one fundamental difference-USA and Europe have a stable government and at present, a booming economy. The Third World countries, where conflicts happen most, do not. As we approach 2000, our resolution for this century should be to rescue the children form their unimaginable plight. But where do we start? From ourselves. Have you donated recently? Well its time to spare some change please.
Susan, UK

If you compare the conditions of children in the developed and developing world these days than 100 years ago, they have better public education, more rights, protection, etc. I think overall in the world, they are doing better than 100 years ago. The fact that we are even asking the questions, 'Are we failing our children?' shows that we are much more concern and aware of children's welfare now than any other previous eras.
D Cheung, United Kingdom

Part of this problem is that nowadays some women think and are told that they have a right to have children regardless of weather they are mentally or financially stable. The consequence is what we see happening now, children being abused, neglected and in some countries starving.
Sharon Carter, England

No, we are not failing our children. The parents are failing their children. We are failing our adults. We are using our schools as political and religious Indoctrination tools. As a result, we are ignoring the skills needed to function in the real world. These skills include more than reading, writing, and the Internet surfing. They need to include personal management, interpersonal skills, financial skills, child raising skills, as well as the traditional knowledge and skills we used to learn. People need to learn the differences between political rhetoric and reality. I have seen too many people try to live as the political rhetoric says. They always fail. I have seen too many people try to live as the religious rhetoric says. They always fail too. It is time we stop dreaming up 'abuse' excuses for our failures. This is only used to justify our failure and deflect criticisms.
Michael Kenslow, USA

There are so many ways we are letting our children down - we don't protect them in an abusive family situation, we encourage quickie divorces, in the third world the west stifles their development by refusing to scrap the debts.

Until we start realising the causes of the problems instead of always trying new solutions we are never going to get anywhere. Scrap the 3rd world debt, encourage the institution of marraige, help people to solve their problems rather than leaving them alone so that they run away. Please - as a father and as someone who has seen the effects - let's start thinking of the children!
Mike Hartley, England

Regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child that was adopted by the United Nations, it's great that there is a piece of paper with such lofty goals and so many nations signed on, but if people at all levels of society don't pitch in and make a effort to change the quality of life for children and all people in their communities, that piece of parchment will be worth about as much as a week old newspaper in the rubbish bin.
Steve Kenney, USA

We should read "A Clockwork Orange" again; that is the kind of generation we are creating by not taking care of the needs of children.
Jennifer Galante, United States

As our parents failed us and as our children, some already with children of their own, will fail their's. Perhaps if we learned to teach our children the things that really matter in this world, we might make a huge leap towards a far brighter future. Otherwise I foresee only a continued decline in our civilisation towards it's eventual collapse. Growing populations and an increasing enmity between the rich and poor will only exacerbate the problems facing our children. They will be taught hate, greed, and fear and each generation will bring more of the same. How can we progress if we don't emphasise education enough. Do we choose to change our path or continue towards another Dark Age?
D.Soleil, Canada

Yes, we are dreadfully failing children, we are depriving them (and ourselves) of the greatest gift that we inherited : Freedom Without freedom there is no escape from poverty, famine, drought, disease and misery. So let's not clamour for higher taxes and more regulations, but for more freedom, the rest will follow.
Alex Stanway , England

We fail them only if we keep them 'safely' in front of the television inside the house. Let them roam free and wander as God intended.
Bertrand Oloquebrethe, France

Less intervention from government and give the raising of children back to the parents. I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Charter. If parents are too scared to discipline their children because of what is "legal" and not "legal", who will discipline them? I was raised up strictly, with capital punishments at school and home and I did not turn our psychotic, claiming "not responsible for my actions because of my abused childhood". It's time we take the responsibility into our own hands and teach our children the same.
Hunny, Japan

Yes we are failing our children! In parts of the world we fail them by not enforcing the protection they need; in other parts we fail them by freeing them from responsibility. All children (as do adults) should have the right to pursue their betterment and happiness, should be protected from assault in any form and allowed to develop their natural assets. By the same token, since their path through life impacts and will continue to impact others, there has to be some limitations imposed and a learning to accept responsibility. To allow otherwise is to invite the conditions for the future which preclude their own children's enjoyment of any form of freedom from harm.

While the "West" (how I dislike that term) has provided and enforced rules designed to protect children, all too often the actual result is the loss of respect and a total disregard of responsibility. Coddling children cannot replace true interested guidance. True success of measures taken to provide the "right" environment for children can only be measured by the maturity in mind, conscience and body that results. By that measure children in many parts of the "West" are worse off today.

In other parts of the world no-one can doubt that abuses take place on a daily basis, not that individual abuse doesn't occur in the "West". Here, though, there is little power or inclination to enforce minimal standards of what I consider decency. But places where this occurs are too often locations where all kinds of abuse is endemic; spousal abuse, repression of minorities, attacks on individuals based on gender, lifestyle, religion. There is no reasonable hope that addressing the abuse of children can succeed without addressing the other abuses and the climate that produces them.

So, from my perspective, I see only degrees of failure from all our attempts to provide protection to children in every corner of the world. Maybe we have to accept that you can't legislate attitude, only educate it and finally throw out the notion once and for all that you can absolve children from responsibility.
Keith Scott, US/UK

No child is isolated from the violence we expose them to. It is sad to say we are in some cases raising good business people but poor human beings...
Helen Krysiak, USA

The annual statistics speak for themselves. Over 100,000 North American boys and girls arrested and charged with murder, robbery, and other felonies. Over 500,000 South and Southeast Asian children lured or forced into prostitution and pornography. A MINIMUM of 15 million South American children living out in the streets. More than 1 million African children orphaned annually by HIV/AIDS. Europe has more than 30 million drug addicts; some 10 million of them started as children. Need I say more?
JASON M., USA

I think that society as a whole is not doing enough to help children. In many parts of the world, they are exploited as slaves, child labourers or drafted to fight in armies. The rich nations of the world need to do more to alleviate the economic hardships of children, particularly in poor countries, through increases in foreign aid.

The West is also failing its children, through poor schools, family break-up, declining morals and a society that seems bent on forcing them to grow up before their time.

In the U.S., children are failed through a lack of morals in society, consumerism, lack of prayer in the schools. The worst way that American society is failing its children is through divorce. Divorce is the single most psychologically destructive event that can happen to a child. For a child to have his/her parents divorce is as devastating to them as a death. Any family in which the parents divorce is dysfunctional and children from broken homes are more likely to join gangs, commit crimes, do poorly in school, have emotional problems, have illegitimate children, just to name a few. It's not just the problems of famine, war and poverty that confront children today, but also a lack of morals in society.
Jeff, U.S.A.

The chief reason for the problems facing the children of the world today is the simple fact that there are too many of them, and not enough is being done to ensure to slow down population growth. This time bomb is ticking more and more loudly, and is likely to explode sometime in the next 50-100 years, unless education, health care and family planning measures are implemented on a war footing in countries like India, Indonesia and in Africa.
Uday, USA

When the left started destroying the traditional values with out replacing them with something besides "If it feels good do it" we started failing the children. We will not be able to help the children until we go back to the attitude of values, and doing something about problems instead of passing meaningless laws and signing meaningless treaties.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

The problem in the West is that too many children today are conceived as lifestyle-enhancing toys, rather than for the real reason. This means they are often somewhat unloved by their parents, and supplied with expensive toys and clothes just to keep them quiet.
Petr Isstof, Poland

This is a painful fact for this self-claiming civilised society. Yes, we have allowed this secular world and all its associated pleasures to shape us forgetting our role of shaping bright future generation as well as our own after-death everlasting joyful life. Our civilisation has largely outdistanced our culture. Our morality is highly outweighed by our mentality! Who should we wait to remind us this reality?? Otherwise our own children might one day become tempted to unearth our fossils, if it could be possible, to prove our sanity!!
Fortius Rutabingwa, Tanzania

We will continue to fail our children while we have a nanny state that encourages by financial incentives inappropriate adults to breed. Children should only be allowed to those who can provide a stable family home and have their own sufficient financial resources to support them. Until we stop child benefits and tax breaks, more generations of uneducated criminals will be bred - and the cycle repeated next generation. Child licences - it's the only way.
Vernon Bigg, UK

Technologically, we (the world) advance at a fast rate. Yet, we are still behind where it concerns our children and I don't mean just Ethiopian children, but children all over the world. The responsibility of the exploitation of our youngsters belongs to us all. We talk, we plan but we act little. Whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, kids from all walks of life need to be regarded more as the adults of tomorrow, since what we give them in terms of life teachings will effect the future, their future, the world's future. Oh yes, we do neglect children in more ways than we want to believe.
Lemlem, Ethiopia/USA

I think that the problem is a side effect of the 60's and 70's when the leisure/entertainment age kicked in. Parents (not all parents however) began to devote more time to themselves as they didn't see a reason to sacrifice all their free time to their children. In fact some parents threw away the shackles of responsible behaviour, i.e. drug taking, casual sex. The kids were growing up in a society where it was cool 'not to care' and these kids were even more irresponsible than their parents because their parents were an excuse/cause for their behaviour. Hence, a need to be more irresponsible than the last generation.
Now, in the 90s, we see a decline in the effectiveness that the police force has with young offenders, the offenders are too young where the real responsibilty for the offenders lies at home and at school. Kids know more about the world at 7 than I ever did, thanks to magazines, television etc., and when some of the harsh realities of the world are bombarding you, you build a shell to them and make your own rules to survive.
Daren, UK

All the world's problems will increase as the world embraces secularism and Globalisation. It is no good for a few in the West to be setting out all the rules, rules which I must add are geared for the national interests of the few. I saw a picture of a child in Chechnya, shivering in the snow whilst his Father tried his best to keep the child warm. They had no shelter and no heat. Imagine for a second imagine being the child or the Father. I don't know how anyone 'human being' can not 'feel' the despair.
Zafar, England

In much of the developing world, the problem is clear. Exploitation, illiteracy and lack of health care simply need to be tacked globally and that requires economic and political improvement. In Western countries more than elsewhere, measures to protect children from the above ills have been successful to the point where children and adolescents are now an economic force to be reckoned with. They are now deliberately targeted by the consumer industry, especially with toys and games, fashions and entertainment.
Such things have come to take on, for many children and young people, an importance not corresponding to reality. As adults, many of them will lead inadequate, self-centred lives of pleasure-seeking, dependent on external stimuli in the form of computer games and videos. Of course, many of them will only be emulating their parents. Family life is changing in the West. In many two-parent families both parents do paid work, not to escape poverty, but to pursue self-fulfilment or luxury.
Peter, Netherlands

From illiteracy in western countries to exploitation in third world, we are without doubt failing our children. Only a tiny percentage are entering the world with opportunity, education, freedom and safety.
What HAS to be realised is that mistakes made now with reverberate for generations to come. What HAS to realised also is that we can change things. Off the top of my head: cancelling third world debt, regulating the arms trade, implementing trade not aid schemes, restricting the exploitative powers of multinationals, policing the sex trade more rigorously... the list goes on.
Wendy S, UK

I find it that the world is not doing enough to help it's children. Most third world countries exploit their children, and the rich countries don't do what they can to help them for the simple reason: Out of sight, Out of mind.
Efrem Gebrehiwet, Eritrean in Canada

We owe to all children to give them a bright future with plenty of opportunity. If, we don't do that then what would we consider to be the purpose of adults helping children down through the ages. We need to cultivate a sense of community in our world. Hillary Clinton had it right. "It takes a Village"!
Dave Adams, USA

We, as individuals are not failing our children. But what is happening is that governments are not doing enough to stop child exploitation. You can pass out as many laws as you want regarding children's' rights, but that is not what exploited children need. Action is the best way of saying.
J Christian, UK

Is there a morsel of doubt in anyone's mind that we have failed? And the reason in my mind has been the narrow and parochial way we look at children's problem as somebody else's problem: another family's , another nation's, and another religion's! Only mass consciousness can solve such problems which actually deal with the collective future of the world...it's not one of the us versus them problem for sure.
Navin , US/India

Of course we are failing our children. We are failing them in many of the same ways that we were failed as children ourselves: lack of universal health care, education, food, clothing, shelter, sex/health education, healthy environment, etc. This will continue until humankind resolves to respect itself, other creatures, and Mother Earth as much as we claim to actually do. Numerous global charters and declarations have been created and signed, but we refuse to remove greed & profit as the primary purpose of society's existence.
We must place love, mutual respect, and a broader sense of inclusivity as the fundamental tenets of a truly human global village. Community must replace consumerism, education/learning/knowledge must replace corporate culture and capitalist structures, and an enlightened vision of the human family that includes all individuals must replace the multiple forms of bigotry that now exist. We must learn to value our children and, in doing so, we will learn to authentically value ourselves.
Reverend James C. Lovette-Black, USA

I am now 'grown-up' by the fact that I am in my late 20s and when I look back over the last 10 or so years to what children have been forced to face or live with, I can't help but wonder why or how things have gotten so bad. I don't know whether it is necessarily us failing our children or society failing the family unit. Surely if there was more support for the family then we would see less children committing suicide and turning to drugs to fill the gap in their lives. I don't think the blame can be placed solely on parents as I think the problem is often more deeply rooted.
Claire, United Kingdom

I doubt whether children are being more exploited now than 10 or 100 years ago; news, television and the internet are making these exploitations public. The subject of children is also very broad. What might be classified as a child in the west can be married in other parts of the world. Yet a minority of western children, both in Europe and America are demonstrating 'Adult' behaviour, such as murder. Local authorities or governments should maintain the health and education systems, but responsibility for children is down to the parents and schools (teachers). And I guess these responsibilities include love, respect, compassion and friendship. Not the 'I'm right, you're wrong' mentality.
Colin, Netherlands

We fail our children firstly by having no real purpose for their actual conception. No amount of legislation can overcome parents who are not committed to providing the very best for their offspring and parents who were themselves not given this commitment cannot pass it on. Crimes against children in the third world are of a different nature and can only be tackled when the world decides to tackle poverty once and for all. In the 3rd world; more education, less weapons. In the 1st world; more love and less conception.
Mike Staley, Hong Kong

I believe we as African nation are failing our children. We don't seem to realise what is important for the coming future. I am 25 years old, and so long as I've lived, Ethiopia was in some kind of ethnic strife that made me despise the land. As a child or younger man, my elders considered the land more important than what I've got to offer as a human being, the best blessing I can have was to leave home - lucky me!!!. Of course, the hostility among us is fueled by western politics, one way or another. But the fact remains - like my mom used to say, when two elephants fight, the grass pays - I'm living it.
Ermias, Ethiopian/USA

I'd say it's a matter of compassion and/or lack of. It seems that since the world has gotten more secular, the traditional morals and family values have been almost eradicated.
Adam Knoerzer, USA

We should spend more time instilling good citizenship and independence into our children and less time buying them expensive designer clothes and toys.
Gerry, Scotland

A little reality wouldn't hurt the spoiled brats we're breeding over here. A lot less reality wouldn't hurt children in certain countries either.
Eyram K., Limburg

We are failing our children in the way we have turned political-correctness and the letter of the law into a stupid art-form. We need to break away from such things as smacking a child's hands when it reaches for a chocolate bar being illegal or at least a case for the courts. This is what is called protecting them from themselves and teaching them what they can have and can't. We fail our children with monumental stupidity - its time we woke up and talked to each other with sense, not looking for an insult or injury in everything we do.
Paul Charters, England

It is vital that parents and governments protect our children. By their very nature children are simply not equipped to handle the type of society that we now inhabit and this is clearly shown by the amount of young people who are emotionally damaged. Why on earth do we want our children to have independence before they can handle it, the very thought of allowing children to fight sickens me, wars are bad enough without encouraging our children to participate. Our duty is to raise our children with love and understanding, teaching them right from wrong and seeing them safely through to independent adulthood.
Phil D, UK

We can't give our children more than we have. If most of the world's population is impoverished, illetarate, and so on, how can it offer something completely different to its offspring? As they grow up, the reflection of the reality forms their minds. We can't make them wear rose-tinted glasses all the time.
Andrej, Russia

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