“I have the right to be a child!”
Eight words, eight one-syllable words, shout the child’s version of Provision 2 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The official version is no less direct, no less compelling:
"Principle 2 The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration."
Every time a child is harmed, our credibility as grown-ups is challenged, the strength of our society diminished. How much more so if that child is harmed not by a careless, evil or neglectful act, but by a set of policies. By the “normal” way the society works?
The killing of children and their principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a single shooter who owned what can only be called an arsenal of weapons designed for killing shocked the world and set in motion a determination to finally – finally – bring gun control to the US. It didn’t happen.
In the nearly four years since the Sandy Hook shooting, our children have not “enjoyed special protection” from gun violence. In fact, according to Everytown for Gun Safety Research, there have been 191 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013, including occasions when a gun was fired but no one was hurt.
Less headline-grabbing but even more troubling is the news that in the US, again since the Sandy Hook deaths, an American child under 12 (under 12! not inclusive of teenagers!) has died by intentional and accidental gunfire every other day.
If we take the best interests of the child seriously, then we cannot reconcile the ready availability of guns with the loss of life at Sandy Hook. Our sympathies have not translated into the “enactment of laws” to make the world safer for our children.
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