Baby’s First Caress. Artist Mary Cassatt. 1891.

“The Sandy Hook, Dayton, and El Paso mass killings have all involved children being victims of violence or losing their parents. It’s not difficult to infer the subsequent lack of gun control essentially means that the public have accepted the murder and suffering of children. This is more than social media rhetoric; children continue to be separated from their parents and/or family members at our borders, and the ongoing practice of separating children from relatives or siblings, while familial ties are validated can take weeks to months. This is not a north American phenomenon as the ongoing plight of Syrian and Libyan refugees demonstrates. As practicing pediatricians and neonatologists, we are enraged that our countries and world, accepts these events happening to children. Why is a principle of zero tolerance not applied to these tragedies, as it is in Sweden to road deaths? (https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2006/zero-tolerance/).

Thus, the question thus arises about the value of children in society. Two decades ago, the Institute of Medicine published a book on the impact of the environment on children, Children’s Health, the Nation’s Wealth. In it is the following sentence on how our societies value our children: ‘The social transformation of childhood in modern societies reflects a retreat from the view that parents have full and unlimited jurisdiction over their children to one, in which the welfare of children is increasingly understood as a shared social responsibility, which requires investments in education, health care, and other institutions.’ Those other institutions may be seen to be institutions engaged in research that assesses and improves child health, both for the child and for the adult the child will become.

From this sentence quoted above, it seems as though the value of our children to society has steadily risen over the past few centuries, since the rights of the child were enshrined in the United Nations convention.

But it seems now that we are in a downward spiral. That the value of children depends on whose child. That the value of children depends on their ethnicity, the wealth of their parents, their genetic makeup, and their socioeconomic level. For example, the infant mortality rate in the US is higher among Black non-Hispanic infants, Native American infants, and Hispanic infants than white non-Hispanic infants (https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/infant_mortality.asp).”

Read more on the Value of Children in our World via Pediatric Research.

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