Epilogue



Deborah J. Johnson, DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga and Robert K. Hitchcock (eds.)Vulnerable Children2013Global Challenges in Education, Health, Well-Being, and Child Rights10.1007/978-1-4614-6780-9_18© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013


18. Epilogue



DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga  and Deborah J. Johnson 


(1)
School of Social Work and Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, 201 F Berkey Hall, 509 E. Circle Drive, East Lansing, MI 48824-1118, USA

(2)
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, 552 West Circle Drive, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

 



 

DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga (Corresponding author)



 

Deborah J. Johnson



Abstract

The United Nations solidified the vulnerable status of children around the world in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), declaring a “need to extend particular care to the child.” As the chapters of this volume have demonstrated, children have been exploited as workers and warriors or have been sold or indentured to servitude for both their labor and their bodies (Derluyn, Broekaert, Schuyten, & Temmerman, 2004; Honwana, 2007; Larson, Russ, Crall, & Halfon, 2008; Smolin, 2005). However, alongside the accumulation of literature highlighting this global vulnerability, there is a growing body of literature suggesting that children are often undefended, if not invisible (Garbarino, 2008; Healy, 2001). Municipalities and governments, language, and cultural communities sometimes bypass the needs of children to elevate other economic, cultural, or social goals. In these instances, their needs are given lesser status or no voice at all. “No care is extended” to these children because the invisibility, lack of recognition, or lesser status of their needs may not be encompassed by the vulnerability label as defined across any number of contexts. So, for example, culture can sometimes be elevated over the needs of children, for instance, lower risk labor when there are educational costs and tradition/traditional religion over potential exploitation of children. In other instances, children are undefended because there is no voice of advocacy for them. Orphans in various forms of fosterage may be described as “lucky” to have any kind of ties or resources, and, as such, any needs or problems become silenced. Vulnerability then is only partially applied or not at all by their communities.


The United Nations solidified the vulnerable status of children around the world in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), declaring a “need to extend particular care to the child.” As the chapters of this volume have demonstrated, children have been exploited as workers and warriors or have been sold or indentured to servitude for both their labor and their bodies (Derluyn, Broekaert, Schuyten, & Temmerman, 2004; Honwana, 2007; Larson, Russ, Crall, & Halfon, 2008; Smolin, 2005). However, alongside the accumulation of literature highlighting this global vulnerability, there is a growing body of literature describing these children as also undefended and invisible (Garbarino, 2008; Healy, 2001). Municipalities and governments, language, and cultural communities sometimes bypass the needs of children to elevate other economic, cultural, or social goals. In these instances, their needs are given lesser status or no voice at all. “No care is extended” to these children because the invisibility, lack of recognition, or lesser status and their needs may not be encompassed by the vulnerability label as defined across any number of contexts. Culture can sometimes be elevated over the needs of children. For instance, when lower risk labor when there produces are educational costs or when tradition/traditional religion supersedes the potential exploitation of children. In other instances, children are undefended because there is no voice of advocacy for them. Orphans in various forms of fosterage may be described as “lucky” to have any kind of ties or resources, and, as such, any needs or problems become silenced. Vulnerability then is only partially applied or not at all by their communities.

How we approach developing the agenda and solving the problems of children globally is crucial for the enactment of policies or programs that come into greater alignment with UNCRC goals and also respect context. It is becoming increasingly clear that any approach to defending, broadening the vulnerability category, or accentuating advocacy for children must be situated squarely within an ecological framework (Bruyere & Garbarino, 2010). We are reminded that an ecological approach is both useful and critical in this global work with children’s rights. An ecological approach to addressing the vulnerability of children is implicit in the UNCRC where child vulnerability is highlighted on multiple systemic levels, from the individual to the institutional and even at the level of local societies. The UNCRC emphasizes that “rights of participation and provision are as important as rights of protection” (Reading et al., 2009, p. 332). An ecological approach emphasizes a person-in-environment perspective on human development and agency. Bronfenbrenner historically aptly described the ecological approach. This perspective more strongly incorporated culture and non-Western perspectives later when Nsamenang (1992) and Garcia Coll et al. (1996) elaborated on the concepts and model. Nevertheless, the core tenants of the visionary theoretical perspective established by Bronfenbrenner (1977) described human development as

the progressive accommodation, throughout the life span, between the growing human organism and the changing environments in which it actually lives and grows. The latter include not only the immediate settings containing the developing person but also the larger social contexts, both formal and informal, in which these settings are embedded. (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, p. 513)

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Feb 14, 2017 | Posted by in PEDIATRICS | Comments Off on Epilogue
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