The Bible highlights God’s particular interest in children. We have a responsibility to care and protect children so that they can use the gifts God has given them to their full potential.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), passed by the United Nations in 1989, was a historic achievement in recognising that children have particular rights. This convention has been approved in all countries (except the USA and Somalia). It includes these rights:
- Children should have their basic needs for housing, food and health met.
- Children’s development should be encouraged. They have the right to play, education, curiosity, information, freedom of thought, and religion.
- Children have the right to protection from every form of abuse, ill-treatment, torture, sexual exploitation, participation in armed conflict, child labour and discrimination.
- Children have the right to participate in decisions that affect them and their communities.
Each of us is responsible for making sure these rights are respected for all children.
- Read Matthew 18:1-6. The disciples wanted to know who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus responds by bringing a child into their conversation.
- What value does Jesus place on children?
- Read Matthew 18:10-14. In verse 10 Jesus emphasises the value of children. He then uses a parable about shepherds to explain his answer. He speaks about the work of shepherds who care for the sheep 24 hours a day in all weathers. Who do these sheep represent? (See John 10:16) What characteristics do they have?
- What does the shepherd do in verse 12? Why does he do this?
- What is the shepherd’s reaction when he finds the sheep in verse 13?
- What did Jesus want to teach us through this parable? What is God’s will for each of these little ones? Are there children who feel ‘lost’ in our society? What practical things would we have to do, in order to do his will?
- How does our government ensure that children are not abused (for example, as child labour or child soldiers)? Are there other ways in which the government could ensure more protection is available?
- Do all children have the opportunity to go to primary school in our region? If not, how could we advocate for the government to make sure education is available for all?