Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Letter to the President

Are your children or the children you know really protected in America? Are their rights being advocated for? Children are being sold and traded every day, and what's to say that their "right to protection" isn't being further violated? Did you know the United States government has not ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child? It is only one of three nations (the others being Somalia and South Sudan) that have not ratified this document into legislation, even though it was signed by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeline Albright, in 1995. That's almost 20 years ago! Here's my appeal to President Obama. What about yours?


Dear Mr President Barak Obama,

After the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school on December 14, 2012, you were seen in media footage around the world standing with children to implore Congress to enact a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons and to institute background checks for all gun buyers. While there has been great controversy over this, it was clear that you were displaying a message to advocate for the protection of children.  

I am writing to urge you to ratify the United Nation's Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC or CROC here in Australia). As a U.S. citizen, it appals me that we are one of three nations (the others being Somalia and South Sudan) that have not ratified this Convention, even after it was signed by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeline Albright in 1995. Of any campaign to protect children that should be presented and established in the United States, surely the UNCRC would be of top priority.

Born and raised in the United States, my parents instilled in me a strong sense of American pride and patriotism. I knew what human rights were, I sang the National Anthem at my high school sporting events, and even worked as a page for the House of Representatives at the Washington State Capitol when I was 13 years old. It was astonishing to find out at the age of 24, while living in Australia, that the United States had in fact, not ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and thus the rights I believed to have growing up were actually not protected by any national measure. Sure I could “stand up for my rights” when I was younger, but because of no government accountability, those rights could easily have been abused and neglected.

My work in Australia as a social worker has given me the opportunity to advocate for the rights of children by facilitating a program in primary schools that educates children to know their rights, builds self-esteem, and instils in them a strong sense of community involvement. Each week, we have them read a different right (from various UN documents including CEDAW, CROC, CERD, etc) and they are each provided with text from the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in child friendly language, in order to provided them better understanding at their academic level. Over the course of the eight-week program, the students are also provided the opportunity to create a community event of their own, enlisting their personal skills, advocating for an issue or topic they care about, and engaging with community at a local level. Thankfully these children live in a nation that has made the rights of children a priority and has ratified CROC (The Australian government ratified the Convention in December 1990 and it became binding on Australia in January 1991. – www.childrights.org.au).

Surely the children who wrote letters to you about gun violence and school safety, and those children who appeared with you on television would like to know that their rights – the right to education, the right to feel safe, the right to equal access of services regardless of disabilities, the right to an identity, and the right to be alive – are actually protected on a national level. Without the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, those rights are not protected; and while efforts are being made to prohibit the use of assault weapons and bring safety to schools, are the children of the United States really safe and protected?

With Sincere Hope for America,

Lindsey Diacogiannis

-----------this letter was signed and posted on 27/02/13----------

No comments: