Today is Children’s Day in India. We all are aware of the amazing grace children have. They are blessed with unconditional grace to laugh open-heartedly, cry and scream with a passion, run fearlessly, pray with sincerity and love with a pure heart. Children have hearts that speak the truth and minds that follow their heart. They are already born with a mind to think which some people fail to understand. As Khaled Hosseini said, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors”. As adults, our responsibility is to teach them to think, to question and to say no to people who hurt them. Sometimes, we overwhelm our children with excess love that we hold them back from reality.
I could write pages about how to love a child. I could also write pages about how people hurt children. According to the World Health Organization report on child abuse, approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused. A recent research in India has shown that as many as 53 per cent, or one in every two children, are victims of child sexual abuse. Sadly, many children are scarred for lives because of adults who strip their respect, dignity and their joy of life. In addition to educating children and encouraging them to be brave enough to say No to abuse, we need to be sensitive, vigilant and attentive to their little whispers of pain and signs of abuse.
When I asked Karthik (our three year old son), what love is, he once said that “love is like coffee…because you love coffee and you love me”. A child is born with enough love to teach us to love. And love for them is not about the most expensive toy you can buy but it is about teaching them to love life and to care for others. Let us love to love and be strong advocates for children’s rights. It is not only children that need to learn about their rights but adults who need to know that children are neither sex toys nor toy soldiers. They are born to live!