Are you an advocate for and with children?
Being an active child advocate is crucial in today’s world, as countless children are denied their rights every day. Believe it or not, Canada is no exception — our country ranks 30th out of 38 affluent nations for protecting the well-being of children.
If you want to make a difference for children, you don’t have to work at a child advocacy organization or have a degree in social work. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Child Advocacy?
Child advocacy isn’t just knowing that children need support, or supporting the young members of your own family. To be a child advocate, you need to work alongside young people to change the systemic and individual problems affecting children in your local area and across the country.
Advocating for children means that you’re committed to promoting the best interests of children. We want to end childhood poverty, homelessness, hunger, abuse, poor education, and any other form of injustice that denies children of their basic rights.
Why Do We Need to Advocate for Children?
Children and youth deserve the same rights and considerations as adults. They are citizens with rights and they serve to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.
Children deserve to be heard
Children are citizens with rights. They have views and opinions, and they are the experts on their own lives. Although young people have rights, those rights aren’t always taught to them at an early age or upheld by the adults in their lives. Children and youth are not currently allowed to vote in a federal election, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a voice — they need to make their wants and needs known.
Part of being a child advocate is being a voice for and with children. Whether it’s a voice to government leader, a voice through a petition or a voice at your child’s school, you can help influence the adults in power to meet the needs of the children.
Children need access to their rights
One-third (or 33%) of Canadians have reported that they experienced some sort of abuse during their childhoods. While we like to imagine that Canada is a safe place for children to thrive, that number is far too high for us to think that our work is done.
Many children grow up with food insecurity and poverty. In our own country, we have children who are part of families that can’t afford food or housing. In fact, one in five children lives in poverty.
While many children in Canada are faced with harsh realities, it is particularly difficult for Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) and other racialized children. The Raising Canada 2020 report revealed that systemic racism impacts children in many ways: they are more likely to experience adverse childhood experiences such as poverty and abuse, are more likely to be overrepresented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school.
These issues, among others, are taking a serious toll on children in Canada. Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14.
Children are the leaders of today and tomorrow
We need to remember that children in Canada are the future of our nation. They’ll grow up into our next generation of Canadian adults, and they’ll take their childhood experiences with them.
Poverty and abuse are unfortunate realities in our country today. Advocating for children helps to remove some of these roadblocks so children can grow up into happy and healthy adults — ready to enter the workforce, pursue their goals, and potentially have their own families that they can raise in a happier and healthier way, too.
If you want Canada to thrive, it starts with the well-being of children and youth.
Who Is Responsible for Child Advocacy?
So if child advocacy is so important, who’s taking care of it?
The truth is, we’re all responsible for child advocacy. In consultation with children, adults play a crucial role in this process. Teachers, pediatricians, family members, and other caregivers are all key partners when it comes to child advocacy.
While child advocacy organizations also have an important role, the job doesn’t stop there. If you want to make a difference for the children in your community and the country as a whole, it starts with you.
Are You Prepared to Advocate for Children in Canada?
We want Canada to be a safe place for kids to grow up and thrive without the threats of poverty, food insecurity and abuse. We can’t reach that goal unless everyone is willing to work together to protect the rights of children and advocate for their well-being.
It’s our job as adults to pave the path towards a better future for young people in Canada. Are you prepared to take part in child advocacy?
We invite you to join the conversation and take action. Do your part to be a voice for children and the future of Canada.