The International Children’s Day
1.The Necessity of having an International Children’s Day
Since a few decades ago, the second Sunday of June is commemorated all around the world as the International Children’s Day based on an initiative introduced by the United Nations. On this day, various festivals are held in different corners of the world in which children gather around and they are given gifts.
All of this is done to remind all the people worldwide at least once a year of the significance of children and the importance of supporting them. Children are the most vulnerable members of human societies, regardless of where they live, and this is why they need to be supported the most.
In the world of today, numerous third world countries are afflicted with problems such as famine, war, and lack of a powerful central government. In such countries, children are threatened by dangers such as death, disability, disease, malnutrition, and abduction. They are also seriously threatened by the illegal organ trafficking and prostitution gangs.
As regards the developing countries, though these countries enjoy relative peace and security, children still face numerous problems in such countries. The most important problems that children face in developing countries include d r o pping out of school due to financial problems, the prevalence of child labor, and various sorts of crime.
In developed countries, however, children face more complicated sorts of problems. Though children enjoy a reasonable level of welfare, they suffer from unstable families where they have the protection of a single parent or parents who do not have good relations.
Moreover, children in developed countries are constantly exposed to the inappropriate contents of numerous mass media and computer games which can cause them considerable psychological damage.
All of these problems have prevented the world from completely putting in to practice the contents of the Convention of the Rights of the Child which has been prepared and adopted by the UN in the past few decades.
This convention is based on the following principles: the child’s right to live, survive, and develop; lack of discrimination among children; and parents’ responsibility to respect children’s views and protect their interests while making decisions for them.
Even though the so-called international community, has been able to prepare and adopt this strategic document regarding the rights of children toward the end of the 20th century it has not yet been able to put this document in to proper practice.
The Special Attention given by Islam to Supporting and Protecting Children
Though understanding the necessity of properly protecting children needed several decades of trial and error by the human communities, along with countless human disasters, the divinely-sent teachings of Islam had provided this understanding and emphasized the importance of supporting children more than fourteen centuries ago.
A quick glance at the teachings of Islam, whether the legal or ethical teachings, indicate that all of the articles of the modern Convention of the Rights of the Child have been explained in the Quran and the teachings of the prominent Islamic leaders. These teachings are many in number, some of which can be concisely listed as follows:
- Emphasis placed on helping the children develop a strong personality: being attentive to the proper development of the child’s personality is of such great importance that the Prophet of Islam (ṣ) has emphasized the choosing of a good name for the child, which is the first step toward the development of their personality, as one of the serious responsibilities of parents. This shows the attention paid by Islam even to the smallest considerations regarding the proper upbringing of the children.
- Giving the Child proper Upbringing and Education: according to the Islamic traditions, Imam Ali (‘a) and Imam al-Sajjād (‘a) both considered the proper upbringing and education of children as the duties of parents. The importance of this issue is further clarified when one realizes that, since children are immensely sensitive to the outside world and will absorb anything that is taught to them, negligence in giving them proper upbringing can have disastrous consequences.
- Avoiding Harsh Treatment of Children or Resorting to Corporal Punishment: Imam al-Kāẓim (‘a) rejected the use of corporal punishment against children as an inappropriate method for disciplining them. Similarly, Imam Ali (‘a) has advised us against the aggressive and harsh treatment of children in the process of their upbringing. This is because, though parents need to discipline their children in the process of their upbringing, they also need to hold them in respect.
- Encouraging the Children to do Good Deeds: the importance of enj o i ning good deeds upon the children has been emphasized in a Prophetic tradition. This is because encouraging the children to do good deeds plays a significant role in cultivating a spirit of benevolence in them and strengthening positive norms in their personalities.
- Avoiding discriminating among one’s Children: the Prophet (ṣ) has emphasized this issue in an important tradition, because it is particularly significant in developing the inclination toward justice in the personality of the children.
- Emphasis placed on overlooking Children’s mistakes and treating them leniently and kindly: with regard to this issue, there is a tradition from Imam al-Sajjād in which the Imam (‘a) has emphasized the necessity of treating children kindly.
- Paying attention to the issues which are characteristic of the young age of the children and trying to relate with them like a child: while discussing the importance of knowing how to behave toward children, the Prophet (ṣ) advises the parents to use a childish language and behavior when interacting with their children.
Attention to Islamic Teachings, the only Way out of Current Problems for Children
The Islamic teachings which have discussed the proper way of child upbringing and education are so many that they cannot be contained in this article. One amazing point which needs to be kept in mind, however, is that these teachings where first introduced in a community where some people would kill their children because of their baseless preconceptions, and some others would kill them due to their financial problems.
This issue further shows the effectiveness and importance of these teachings in fighting social deviations. The rights of children are of such great importance in Islam that the parents who violate the rights of their children are considered cursed by their children by the Islamic teachings.
Paying constant attention to these teachings and putting them in to practice is what can transform the Children’s Day from a mere symbol in to a basis for action toward decreasing human suffering worldwide.
The governments of the countries which host the UN headquarters know perfectly well that by allocating merely 5 dollars for every child, we can save the lives of 90 percent of the children who die because of a lack of proper healthcare around the world.
It is also a known fact that 6 weeks’ worth of the world’s military budget is enough to significantly improve the living conditions of all of the children in the third world countries.
 «...حَقُّ الْوَلَدِ عَلَى وَالِدِهِ أَنْ يُحْسِنَ اسْمَه...» Ibn Bābweyh, Muhammad ibn Ali. Man Lā Yaḥḍarah al-Faqīh. Researched/revised by: Ghaffārī, Ali Akbar. Publisher: The Islamic Publication office affiliated with the Society of the Teachers of the Islamic Seminary of Qom. Qom, second ed., 1413 Ah. P. 372.
 “حَقُّ الْوَلَدِ عَلَى الْوَالِدِ أَنْ... يُحَسِّنَ أَدَبَه...” Sharīf al-Raḍī, Muhammad ibn Ḥusayn. Naj al-Balāghah. Researched/revised by: Feyz al-Islam. Publisher: Hejrat Pub. Qom, 1st ed., 1414 Ah., p. 456.
 “...وَ أَمَّا حَقُّ الصَّغِيرِ... تَثْقِيفُهُ وَ تَعْلِيمُه” Ibn Shu‘bah Ḥarrānī, Hassan ibn Ali. Tuḥaf al-‘Uqūl. Researched/revised by: Ghaffārī, Ali Akbar. Publisher: the Publication of the Society of the Teachers of the Islamic Seminary School of Qom. Qom, 2nd ed., 1404 Ah., p. 270.
 Makarem Shirazi, Naser. Payām-i Imam Amir al-Mu’minīn (‘a). Publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah. Tehran, 1st ed., 1386 Sh., vol. 15, p. 253.
 “لَا تَضْرِبْهُ وَ اهْجُرْهُ وَ لَا تُطِل” Majlisī, Muhammad Bāqir ibn Muhammad Taqi. Biḥār al-Anwār. Revised by a group of researchers. Publisher: Dār Iḥyā’ al-Tirāth al-‘Arabi. Beirut, 2nd ed., 1403 Ah., vol. 101, p. 99.
 “لَا أَدَبَ مَعَ غَضَبٍ” Laythī Wāsiṭī, Ali ibn Muhammad. Researched/revised by: Hassani Birjandi, Hossein. Publisher: Dār al-Hadith. Qom, 1st ed., 1376 Sh., p. 531.
 “رَحِمَ اللَّهُ وَالِدَيْنِ أَعَانَا وَلَدَهُمَا عَلَى بِرِّهِمَا” al-Kulaynī, Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb ibn Isḥāq. Al-Kāfī. Researched/revised by: Ghaffārī, Ali Akbar & Ākhundi, Muhammad. Publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah. Tehran, 4th ed., 1407 Ah., vol. 6, p. 48.
 "نَظَرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص إِلَى رَجُلٍ لَهُ ابْنَانِ فَقَبَّلَ أَحَدَهُمَا وَ تَرَكَ الْآخَرَ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ ص فَهَلَّا وَاسَيْتَ بَيْنَهُمَا" Man Lā Yaḥḍarah al-Faqīh, ibid, vol. 3, p. 483.
"وَ أَمَّا حَقُّ الصَّغِيرِ... وَ الْعَفْوُ عَنْهُ وَ السَّتْرُ عَلَيْهِ وَ الرِّفْقُ بِهِ وَ الْمَعُونَةُ لَه" Tuḥaf al-‘Uqūl, ibid.
 “مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ صَبِيٌ فَلْيَتَصَابَ لَه” Ibn Abi-Jumhūr, Muhammad ibn Zayniddīn. ‘Awāli al-la’ālī al-‘Aziziyyah fi al-Aḥādīth al-Dīniyyah. Researched/revised by: Arāqi, Mujtaba. Publisher: Dār Sayyid al-Shuhadā’ li-Nashr. Qom. 1st ed., 1405 Ah., vol. 3, p. 311.
"وَ إِذا بُشِّرَ أَحَدُهُمْ بِالْأُنْثى ظَلَّ وَجْهُهُ مُسْوَدًّا وَ هُوَ كَظيمٌ* يَتَوارى مِنَ الْقَوْمِ مِنْ سُوءِ ما بُشِّرَ بِهِ أَ يُمْسِكُهُ عَلى هُونٍ أَمْ يَدُسُّهُ فِي التُّرابِ أَلا ساءَ ما يَحْكُمُونَ" Surah al-Nahl, v. 58-59.
"وَ لا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلاقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَ إِيَّاهُمْ" Surah al-An‘ām, v. 151.
 The Prophet (ṣ) stated the following in this regard: “يَلْزَمُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ مِنَ الْعُقُوقِ لِوَلَدِهِمَا مَا يَلْزَمُ الْوَلَدَ لَهُمَا مِنْ عُقُوقِهِمَا” ibid, vol. 6, p. 48.