Pope Francis welcomed the young people to the World Youth Day on Monday, 22 July 2013 in Rio de Janeiro with the following inspirational words; “As I begin my visit to Brazil, I am well aware that, in addressing young people, I am also speaking to their families, their local and national church communities, the societies they come from, and the men and women upon whom this new generation largely depends.
Here it is common for parents to say, “Our children are the apple of our eyes”. What a beautiful expression of Brazilian wisdom this is, applying to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight! What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question. Listen! Young people are the window through which the future enters the world.
They are the window, and so they present us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone. If we can do all this, we anticipate today the future that enters the world through the window of the young.
” Who are the children? According to Wikipedia, “Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the stages of birth and puberty, or between the developmental period of infancy and puberty. The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. Children generally have fewer rights and less responsibility than adults. They are classed as unable to make serious decisions, and legally must be under the care of their parents or another responsible caregiver. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines child as “a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”.
This is ratified by 192 of 194 member countries. Characteristics of a child/ children • Unique individuals, with their own rhythms and strategies. • Curious, energetic, exploratory, moving, seeking stimulation, response and mastery. • Rapidly changing and growing. • Experiencing the environment through their senses, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting. • Social dependent, developing trust. • Responds interactively to faces, talking, cooing. • Is reaching out, searching for a response, evoking responses in others. • Express feelings though crying, facial expressions, and body language. • Falling in love with particular adults. • May withdraw into sleep from over stimulation; or may express distress by crying.
• Raphael Okusaga Raphael is the Child Safeguarding Officer, St. Patrick’s Missionary society, District of West Africa, Maryland, Lagos