Australian Catholic University’s Professor Michele Riondino, an expert in canon law and children’s rights, says all adults – not just policymakers – are duty-bound to remove fear from children’s lives.
November 20 was the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child but there remain many challenges for nations, including protecting children who are fearful of walking to school, being imprisoned or forced into labour.
In a speech delivered at Yale University on the occasion of the seventh Distressed Children & Infants International Conference on Child Rights, Professor Riondino’s call to action implored every adult to move beyond well-intentioned declarations and embrace the “dutiful challenge” to protect children from harm.
“The duty for us adults to recognise a moral leadership to the legitimate interests of the child does not derive, in the final analysis, from a mere compassion for children, that is, from considering every child as subjects who are constitutionally weak,” he said.
“Rather, comprehending that their weakness and innocence create an explicit duty on the part of whoever is preparing to work with them. Only in this way we can help them to flourish, and never to confine their legitimate interests.”
Professor Riondino, Director of the Thomas More Law School’s new Canon Law Centre, reflected in his speech on how the international community has responded to the protection of children’s rights. He noted the establishment of the International Labour Organisation and its formulation of a minimum working age.
He also noted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its implications in protecting children’s interests.
“There emerges a clear reminder that every adult should commit him/herself not only to contribute to the child’s growth but, in particular, to the child’s personal potential, limiting fear and incertitude in a way that renders more easily children’s mature and responsible integration into society.
“More than a quarter of a century has passed from the adoption of CRC by the UN General Assembly. We should not wait another 30 years to give full effect to the principles embodied in the Convention. What is at stake is not our own good, but the present and future good of all humanity.”