AAP reaffirms endorsement of Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Pediatrics
In support of the effort to reduce suffering of children worldwide due to violence, the Academy is reaffirming its endorsement of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The sanction comes as political and religious strife in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans are at peak levels.
The endorsement calls for governments and parents worldwide to protect children from maltreatment and societal abuse by discouraging them from participating in acts that place a child’s life in danger, particularly protest and exposure to violence. It also asks that children under age 15, but preferably under age 18, be spared from recruitment into armed forces.
“The lives of children around the world, particularly in war-torn countries and developing countries, are harsh enough as is,” said Steven Kairys, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
“The need for children to be able to grow up and attain whatever potentials they might be blessed with or endowed with demand that they be as free from violence as possible and protected from violence.”
Dr. Kairys added that children involved in violence should be given treatment and medical services to help them recover from acute and chronic trauma.
“Both [traumas] have a major impact on children’s psyches. These are usually situations where there is already family disruption and family chaos and crisis, and to add to that the additional burdens of children witnessing or being involved in violence or forced participants of war is a tremendous burden of injury on an already vulnerable individual,” he said.
Karen Olness, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Section on International Child Health, said the Academy has an obligation to be advocates for all children. “Because the members of the AAP are people who really do care about children, we have tremendous respect throughout the world.”
Dr. Olness said the work of the AAP CHILDisaster Network can help uphold the endorsement. “This CHILDisaster network is specifically designed to make people available to any legitimate relief organization in the world wanting child health assistance in a disaster. We have put together a group of child health professionals, not limited to the United States, who are available on call to respond to disasters on behalf of children.
“The fact that the Academy has endorsed the concept — this speaks to the kind of commitment and dedication and altruistic attitude of all the Fellows of the Academy who essentially are the AAP.”
Dr. Kairys concurred, “It’s critical that the Academy stand up for the health and welfare of children.”