Please note: This article is an opinion piece and its content largely stems from the author’s own personal views and experiences.
Undoubtedly, we are living through turbulent times. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how fragile our world really is. Since WWII modern societies across the Globe have come to be ever more dependent on market economy driven capitalism while also continuing to evolve ideologically.
Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 an increasing number of countries and peoples have learnt to embrace that all human beings, regardless of race, sex, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious background or cultural identity have the same, universal human rights.
The share of responsibility to protect these universal human rights has gradually expanded during the past years and decades, from the UN to governments, NGOs, corporations and even the individuals. Indeed, many of you, Humanium readers and followers, contact us at Humanium about human rights abuses around the world, often committed against people you don’t personally know. Rightly, you express concern about these abuses and are eager to do something to stop them. We at Humanium certainly encourage you to continue doing all you can to shed light on these abuses, and are hopeful to be able to assist you in doing so with related legal advice and helpful information.
Freedom of information is one of the fundamental human rights derived from freedom of speech in the Universal Declaration. Information is for everyone regardless of age. Despite the many challenges that come with it, the internet makes it possible to share information on an unprecedented scale transcending national borders and linguistic boundaries.
To slow down the spread of Covid-19 national governments across the world have opted for the closure of schools and non-essential businesses, the prohibition of public gatherings and, in some cases, strict curfews. The news coverage of these measures has been overwhelming in most democratic societies where few adults can claim not having been adequately informed about the Covid-19 pandemic, the reasons behind the efforts to control it, as well as their implications for everyday life.
Whilst we, adults, appear to have been overfloded with information on the pandemic that has come to define our present, children have been, so-to-speak, “left in the dark”. The regional and nationwide lockdowns affect their lives just as much as ours – if not more. Kids are being separated from their friends, peers and grandparents, their movements limited to the home, their daily routines altered by hand sanitizers, masks, soap, social distancing, limited physical activity, often reduced intellectual engagement and a range of other changes and challenges children themselves would be better suited to discuss.
Meanwhile, only a handful of public figures have attempted to directly address children’s needs and concerns amidst the unfolding of the pandemic. Instructions for adults and guardians on how to inform children have been scarce in the Covid-19 media-frenzy.
We at Humanium, and every adult, including you, dear readers, have a common responsibility to ensure that children’s fundamental human right to information is realized. At times when “big” ADULTS act more anxious and fearful than the children around them have ever seen them before, it is of outmost importance to make sure than those little people (children) do not feel a complete lack of control over their lives. Their world as they knew it until now shouldn’t shatter even if it has to tremble, their spirit should not enter regression or meltdown, they should not feel they are left alone in the dark.
“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”(Socrates)
My intention with this article is to highlight our obligation not to overlook children’s need for and fundamental right to information. Contrary to certain assumptions, children’s thirst for knowing is no inferior to adults’. Indeed, I can recall how many questions I, as a child, harbored and sought to answer. I clearly remember the feeling of disappointment with adults’ frequent unwillingness to address my concerns and the frustration when I would not receive any meaningful answers to my questions.
In the current turmoil I can only image children’s growing frustration with the uncertainty exacerbated by the information poverty they endure. Thus, I ask you, dear reader, to address this issue in your own family and community by empowering children with knowing and understanding. To begin, I suggest you read my fellow Humanium writer, Josie Thum’s article ‘Coronavirus Guide for Children’. Remember, there is nothing more frightening and frustrating than not understanding why others around you are frightened and frustrated.
Written by Matyas Baan