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PROMOTING HEALTHY BODY IMAGE IN CHILDREN

From emaciated models walking on the runway to celebrities barely leaving any skin covered in magazines and billboards constantly bombard your children with these images that project being skinny and eating unhealthily is right, as the optimum standard of beauty and finesse. These negative images that inundate your child on a daily basis may compel your child to hate their bodies deeming it unacceptable and lowers their self esteem, leading them to develop unhealthy eating practices, the primary factor in the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. It is therefore crucial that parents educate and support their child consciously develop a healthy body image. There are several measures parents can take to ensure that their children grow up confident of themselves and not be influence by the standards of beauty the media is trying to portray.

 

 

 

  • Be your child’s role model – imagine this scenario, you are in front of a mirror consciously poking at your imperfections, your projection will instill in your child that bodily imperfections are nasty and your child will bring this thought as she gets older.
  • Encourage acceptance – everybody is equal in the eyes of God, everybody was created equally upon His likeness, with this in mind encourage your child to accept whatever imperfections she has because that’s what makes life meaningful. Remind her that beauty is not only skin deep and that she does not need to look like the models to become loved and accepted, we are all unique and special in our own little way.
  • Forgo with weighing scales – it’s unnecessary to weigh yourselves and will only add up to the stigma that being weightless equates to beauty and happiness.
  • Educate your child about genetics and its relationship to weight – that there are people who are born naturally skinny and some are bone with bigger bone structures and that this is completely normal.
  • Discuss Dieting versus Healthy Lifestyle – encourage her to live a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced well-rounded diet rather than dieting and starving herself. As we all know,  an astounding 95 per cent of all dieting fads fail, it is vital that your child is aware of this making her less likely to do so.
  • Use positive body messages – a hug. A cuddle. A kiss. A massage on your child’s weary body after school or play sends a message that they are accepted for whoever and whatever they are. It connotes a sense of acceptance that their bodies are lovable, which greatly impacts their mental perceptions about body image.
  • Stand up for your child – in instances that you hear people comment negatively on your child’s weight or shape, stand up for them and assure them that they are loved because bullying leads to a disturbance in their perception of their body image until adulthood.
  • Educate your child about junk foods and their harmful effects to the body – junk foods contain a high amount of trans fat that are harmful for your child, it does not only contribute to rapid weight gain but harmful to their blood vessels. Give an emphasis of the harmful effects these have to our bodies, the associated diseases junk foods may cause.

 

 

These are some of the steps you can take to ensure that your child grows up to have a healthy perception of their body image. Because a confident child, empirically becomes more productive and responsible in society.

 

UNICEF’S Convention On The Rights Of The Child 1989

One of UNICEF’s main missions is the advocacy for the protection of children’s rights, in meeting their basic needs and to amplify their opportunities to reach their full potential. This advocacy has led the UN to set out 54 articles that states the basic human rights that children everywhere should have; the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; protection from harmful influences and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. They outlined it in 1989’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

 

The Four Core Principles of the Convention provides:

 

  1. The Principle of non-discrimination (Article 2) which prohibits the state or anyone to discriminate a child in any way, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
  2. The devotion to the best interests of the child (Article 3.1) should be taken into primary consideration of the state, thus, every crucial decision that a government undertakes, the children’s welfare should always be a substantial factor.
  3. The child’s right to life and survival and development (Article 6) shall be protected by the state to the maximum extent possible to ensure that each and every child has the opportunity to develop to their utmost potential.
  4. To respect the views of the child (Article 12) states that any child capable of forming his or her own views has the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child and these views shall be given weight in accordance to the maturity level of the child in any judicial or administrative proceedings either directly or through a representative in accordance to the state’s protocols of law.

By adhering to undertake the principles specified by the convention, governments have committed themselves to the protection of the children’s rights and shall be held accountable for the commitment they’ve made before the international community.

 

 

The History of Children’s Rights

The History of Children’s Rights

 

During the 1870s, more than a century ago, the disturbing story of Mary Ellen changed how the world views children and their rights. Her life story prompted the US government to revise and give particular legal attention to children’s rights.

Mary Ellen was a child born to Irish immigrants. On the year she was born (1864) her father died in the brutal War of the Cold Harbour, Virginia. This left her mother the sole responsibility of caring for her. Unable to continue paying for her daughter’s care, Mary was turned over to New York City’s Department of Charities where a couple falsely claimed as her relations.

child smiling The History of Children’s RightsOver the next six years in the hands of the couple, she suffered unimaginable abuse and neglect. She was kept from going outside with no adequate clothing for the winter months and no comfortable bed for her to sleep. She was malnourished and was forced to work beyond her age and capacity. People around her tried to intervene, specially the Methodist caseworker, Etta Wheeler. But without adequate laws governing children, Etta fought a long and hard battle to save Mary until she sought out the help of Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in which she reasoned out that as children are part of the animal kingdom, Mary could therefore be protected under the same laws that govern animal mistreatment.

Mary’s story ended well as she was taken to a farm and raised among other children where she grew up and in a safe and child friendly haven. Mary’s case reverberated throughout the nation and resulted in the foundation of New York’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCC) in 1874.  Since then, the US and the rest of the world had become vigilant in amending and protecting the rights of children.

 

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

The United Nations took a substantial step in adopting the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1924 reaffirming it in 1934 stipulating a child’s right to “nutrition, survival, shelter, proper healthcare, humanitarian relief, protection from abuse and exploitation and the right to grow up in a safe environment that nurtures development; and in 1954 provided children “the right to identity, family, education and freedom from discrimination.” Although this was never legally binding, in 1979 the United Nations with representatives from around the world drafted the first Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which legally protects the rights of children. The CRC was ratified and became an international law in 1990.

 

 

RATIFICATION

Only two countries remain that have yet to ratify the 1990 treaty after 20 years, Somalia, which committed to ratification after they establish a centralized government and the United states which, until today, the treaty is still waiting to be heard in the US Senate’s floor. The US in under pressure to ratify the treaty, according to Linda Spears, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs at Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), “The United States is a leader in the world; if we don’t ratify, we are not assuming our responsibilities.”

Quoting from the Spears, beyond international credibility, the CRC provides the United States a means of focusing on core issues related to the health, safety, well-being, and futures of children. For example, she says, “We know kids in the inner city, kids in poverty, kids in foster care … they don’t have high graduation rates. What can we do to increase the graduation rates among those populations? What can we do to reduce infant mortality? What can we do to lower rates of child abuse?” She believes that ratification would signal a strong commitment on behalf of the United States to address these and similar issues affecting the welfare of children.

 

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Medical-legal partnership promotes health and well-being by drawing on the strengths of two powerful professions to ensure families' basic needs--for food, housing, and safety and stability--are met.