Declaration of the Rights of the Child

DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959
   WHEREAS the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
   WHEREAS the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
   WHEREAS the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,
   WHEREAS the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children,
   WHEREAS mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,
   Now, therefore, General Assembly Proclaims    THIS DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:
1   The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
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.
3   The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
4   The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
5   The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.
6   The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
7   The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.   The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.   The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.
8   The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
9   The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.   The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.
10   The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.

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Man shaming and victim blaming: an A-Z of male suicide

Karen Woodall

I caught the end of the Panorama Programme on male suicide in the UK last night. Whilst I know something about the statistics around male suicide and understand some of those things which stack up against men, causing loss of hope and a spiral into despair, even I was shocked that 100 men are killing themselves every week in the UK.

100 men every week. It is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50. It is happening in our country right now and yet, apart from the exhortation to ‘talk about it’, we have, as yet, no national strategy, no national awareness of what is happening and no real idea of what to do about it other than telling men they need to talk about it.

So it’s all their fault then and if only men would be more like women and talk about it, all would be well. Is that our strategy? Make men more like women and all will be well? According to Calmzone’s CEO Jane Powell it is. Powell, who ended the programme last night by saying

the answer is in…simply talking about it..in that sense, the answer is free.

and then went on to talk about how there had been a massive cultural change for women over the years with the implication that if men would only get on and talk about it, the rates of suicide amongst men would drop and it wouldn’t cost a penny.

Was I the only one whose jaw dropped to the floor on hearing this? My first reaction was laughter at the nonsensical idea that all men have to do is talk about their feelings and they won’t feel like killing themselves anymore. My second reaction was serious concern which grew into anger at the realisation that the sole idea that was being put foward in this documentary was a feminist construct that if men were more like women and talked about their feelings, their despair would not drive them to death. So let’s look at what talking about it does for the men who are most at risk of suicide in the UK.

Men under fifty whose lives are fragile and based upon the whims of the woman they live with and her approval of him being a good enough husband or partner.

If he fails to live up to this and his wife or partner decides that the marriage is over, what happens to our man under the age of fifty?

a) his behaviours are routinely analysed as being based upon his inherent advantage under the rule of patriarchy. He is judged wanting because he is a man because men are advantaged and women are not.

b) he is asked to leave the house he lives in.

c) leaving his children behind

or

d) he comes home one night to an empty house, his wife and his children are gone

e) he is regarded as a perpetrator, it must be his fault because he is a man

f) he faces systemic discrimination in the services he turns to for help, including even those services set up to support him it would seem, as their core belief is that if he just talks about it he will feel less like killing himself. Meanwhile he is homeless, forcibly separated from his children and

g) forced to pay 20% of his gross income to support the children he can only see if their mother is willing to allow that

h) when he enters the housing system he is told he has no priority and so he spends much of his time sofa surfing in his friends homes or lives with his mother and father, alternatively he goes onto the streets and becomes one of the invisibles, the ones we don’t care about because if they are on the street it must be their fault mustn’t it?

i) When he tries to see his children, using the family court system he pays for it financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

j) He applies to see his children using a C100 form and is asked to attend mediation which he does. His children’s mother however refuses because she has reconfigured their relationship through her ‘consciousness raising’ as being abusive…he is doomed but he doesn’t know it yet.

k) He goes into court and secures that which is afforded to him now that he is regarded as deficient as a father, contact. Contact with his children, those kids who he held in his arms on the day of their birth and promised them the world. He is now allowed to have ‘contact’ with them.

l) ‘Contact’ is stopped when allegations are made and the criminal court takes a year or more to conclude that he is not guilty.

m) now his kids don’t want to see him anymore, he is too sad, too bad, too not what a dad should be.

n) He goes in to the court system believing he will get justice and comes out shredded, bullied, coerced and shamed.

0) He suffers from PTSD

p) his working life has suffered for a very long time, now he faces losing his job.

q) losing his job is the final straw, now he is homeless, childless, jobless and worthless.

r) he asks for help from one of the local services who tell him that all he needs to do is talk about it.

s) he staggers out into the street and wonders why he doesn’t just throw himself under that bus, who would care?

t) he drifts listlessly from one day to the next, his friends have given up on him, or been turned against him by his ex

u) his mother is seriously concerned about him but cannot get through to him

v) he starts planning how to end the pain

w) he wakes up one morning after a night drinking to kill the pain of the loss that he has suffered and the post traumatic stress that causes his brain to spin around the same questions over and over again…what did I do that was so wrong?

x) he cannot cope with it anymore, he has talked it and walked it for too long.

y) he knows his mother is not in the house today

z) he takes the rope from the garage

If only he had talked about it….

Telling men who face external barriers and obstacles to those things that keep them mentally well and healthy to talk about it is like shouting into a force 10 gale and thinking the person over the other side of the hill can hear you. The sickening thing about telling men who face these levels of discrimination to ‘talk about it,’ is that it is like sticking a plaster over open heart surgery in the belief that it will heal itself eventually. What we are doing to men is wrong, it is not healthy and it is very definitely not about equality.

For those who believe that when I write about men that makes me a men’s rights activist and those who believe that because I have abandoned feminism for what it is, a discriminatory cult which is about women’s rights and not equality, I am biased against women. Let me tell you that I am not an activist for anything other than equality, that which is based upon enabling men and women to be who they are and different, not the same. What I also am is someone who believes that if we are to be a truly equal, just and fair society, in which our boys and girls can grow up to have choices across the whole spectrum of their lives, we have to undersand that victim blaming is not just for women, it is for men too. And victim blaming is something which starts when we see the struggles of men and women as being of their own doing. This is exactly what is happening when we tell men who face systemic barriers to their wellbeing that they will feel better if they simply ‘talk about it.’

What happens when men do talk about it is that we collectively start a process of man shaming. When men clmb on buildings to highlight their plight they are irresponsible wasters who clearly should not have anything to do with their children, when they march for their rights, we say they are bullies and are showing their true colours and when they kill themselves we say that if only they talked about it, all would be well. Man shaming. It is rife in our culture. It is wrong and it is killing men at the rate of 100 per week in the UK.

Instead of telling men to talk about it, isn’t it time that those of us who want a fairer, safer, more just world for our children, got on and did something about it?

And I don’t mean talk about it.

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