Youngsters need greater voice in decisions that affect them UN Childrens Fund

Children have a right to be heard in decisions that affect them, and giving young people a constructive role is essential to both their development and the creation of a more cohesive, peaceful world, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says in its annual report launched today in Mexico City.”Authentic, meaningful participation prepares children for their stake in the future,” says the State of the World’s Children 2003, the flagship publication of UNICEF. “With all the understanding it brings to the children involved, participation is a keystone for cohesive societies, which, in turn are the keystone for peace in the world.”The report argues that this level of “child participation” has important benefits for the healthy development of individual children and for their communities as a whole.A product of some 40,000 surveys of young people taken over a three-year period, the report finds that tens of millions of young people around the world feel disconnected from political institutions and lack trust in their governments, and that young people who do not participate fail to develop vital skills such as negotiation and responsible decision making.”In a world wounded by conflict and divided by poverty, it is absolutely essential that children be embraced, listened to, and given a role in crafting a better future for themselves,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy upon the official launch of the report, which also included the participation of the President Vicente Fox of Mexico and his wife, Sahagún de Fox.

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