Gender Gender

Give children a voice

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
IN MOST societies, there is the widely-held view that children should never be heard but only seen because it is believed that they lack the capacity and knowledge to make informed decisions.
However, evidence has shown that this belief is unfounded. It actually has shown that when children are allowed to speak out or participate on issues that affect them, it usually has a positive impact on them and the communities they hail from.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child believes that recognising the rights of children to express their views and to participate in various activities, according to their capacities, is beneficial for the children, family, community, school and country.
This was evident last Sunday, seeing the level of confidence and knowledge exhibited by some children from a school in Lusaka, as they interviewed Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya as part of the commemoration of International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB), which falls on every first Sunday of March.
As she answered their interesting questions, Ms Siliya, who is also Chief Government Spokesperson, offered her young audience some valuable advice as well. The minister’s interaction with the children was important because talking and listening to children is critical in building a bond and trust and helps to boost their confidence, especially when it is lacking.
This year, the ICDB, which was celebrated under the theme ‘Every child counts’, was launched in 1991 by UNICEF to encourage broadcasters globally to create awareness for issues that affect children. But over the years, the children’s participation has become part of the process as was seen by most media houses in all our 10 provinces.
According to UNICEF, television and radio play an important role in raising awareness of global issues and in shaping children’s lives. It encourages broadcasters to open airwaves to youths throughout the year, instead of being celebrated for one day, but should be an overarching initiative to involve more young people in the media process.
To commemorate ICDB, the children took charge of programming, and through their voices, they were able to discuss and present different topics, which is often not the case. Giving children a voice promotes self-esteem and self-worth; this helps them to learn and appreciate they are equally important and valued by society.
When children feel valued, it helps to boost their confidence and enables them to play a more positive role in their communities. Oftentimes, children with high levels of confidence are unlikely to play up or involve themselves in anti-social or harmful behaviours.
Participation entails giving children an opportunity to express themselves and to be actively involved in decision-making at different levels on issues that concern them. To achieve this, there is need for information-sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect.
However, age and maturity of children involved should be taken into consideration as this is happening. As children grow older, their capacities develop and their horizons broaden. They are then able to participate in a wide range of issues that affect them from the immediate family to the international level.
It is, therefore, imperative to support best practice and demonstrate a commitment to upholding the rights of children as stated as by United Nations, which highlights the importance of giving children a voice as part of their basic rights from an early age.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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