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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2002 December;54(6):489-506

language: Italian

A world made for the measure of children and the young. The children and the young around us and the child and the adolescent within each for us

Parsi M. R.


Towards the end of the nineteenth century in America, a court that normally dealt with animal abuse found itself facing a very special problem: it had to discuss for the very first time a case of child abuse. It might seem a paradox to many that a matter of this nature should be discussed in a court set up for a quite different purpose, but it was not an error arising out of the lack of room in the civil court nor an error of competency: it happened to be the only place judged to be appropriate to discuss the rights of a child, mistreatment of whom was handled on a par with abuse of animals. In spite of the section expressly dedicated to children in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1789, the world had to wait for the Geneva Convention of 1924 before the first declaration of children's rights was promulgated. There were five main principles: the right to a healthy psychophysical development, the right to be nourished, cared for, returned to a normal life if demoralised, looked after and aided in the case of orphans. But only with the international Convention of children's rights of New York in 1989 was it possible to draft a text for the full, more comprehensive protection of infancy, two centuries after the first pronouncement on the occasion of the universal declaration of human rights. Two centuries of struggles and growing awareness of the problem of children (and at the same time of women and mothers) in the world, two centuries that have produced all over the world the complete idea of the child as having rights and being an active part of contemporary society. But the examination of the current situation brings us to the main problem: if a virtuous circle is not established between rights, infant culture and duties of adults, then the declarations of this century will have to wait many years more before becoming a practical part of our society. What then should be done to make sure that the declarations and conventions on rights do not remain a mere expression of principles? There can be no evolution in children's living conditions, nor protection of their rights, if we do not create a culture of infancy based on two premises: the rights of children and the duties of adults with respect to children. Today an exact and comprehensive knowledge of the rights of children is necessary above all starting with their right to freedom, experience, opinion, equal opportunity for development and education, defence against all types of abuse, and their right to a family. But at the same time it is necessary to act in the area of the duties of parents and adults: the question is one of building up a cultural system that includes the rights whereby the prerogatives of children are matched with corresponding duties of adults, a culture of values that responsibilises adults by way of a process of personal awareness and parent training. The adult must find himself personally in harmony in his relationship with life so as not to compromise on child training: the idea of a vulnerable future must be avoided; a future that is insecure and defenceless for children and adolescents who are future adults. A third factor must cater for this, namely modern society whose task it is to build structures (interconnected by means of an interdisciplinary project and through the possibility that modern technology also offers them) to supply opportunities and laws that favour and protect the personality of both child and adult. In this case considerable value would be taken on by the drafting of a ''Charter of Duties of adults with respect to children and adolescents'' that favours the birth of new standards and national and international conventions aimed at a new conception of society understood as a set of several parts, children, adolescents, adults, each subject of rights. By this approach the commitment of individual associations, organisations and institutions would start a process of social development which as of today is the last and on]y real revolution possible to improve the conditions of life of the person as such, and not only of the person as a citizen of one nation or another. In conclusion: no development is possible if we do not take steps as an international community to protect the first citizens of the world who are and always will bc children. 1n this sense, psychoanimation, which is a psychopedagogic-cultural intervention methodology based on a holistic approach and employs cognitive, creative, corporeal techniques to foster, in the individual and in the group, that ''growth'', that ''awareness'', that ''responsibility'' which have their ''roots'' in self-awareness and in the possibility of acquiring cultural instruments that are scientifically and humanistically suitable to ''act'' individually and collectively, the ''change'' in human societies sets itself the diffusion of a Culture of Infancy and of Adolescence as an objective. In fact for Psychoanimation that means: (''give soul to the soul'' employing all languages in interdisciplinary fashion for communication and social integration) in order to authentically permit knowledge, communication and exchange among human beings) the last ''possible revolution'' is that connected with the success, all over the world, of a Culture of Infancy and of Adolescence. What is the possibility that this converts into: ''a world made to the measure of children'': the children around us and the child within us!

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