Philosophical, Historical, Social and Economic Context of Child Protection
Chapter 3: Why Should We Care?
Conditions confronting marginalized children provoke a response on several levels. A moral imperative crosses almost all cultures, religions and values, wherein the welfare of children holds high standing. Children are our legacy, our sustainability and the hope for a better society. They merit attention and protection. Virtually every major philosophical, religious and cultural movement places a value on protecting and nurturing the young.
But beyond this moral imperative lie more complex but equally compelling reasons. Children’s issues have a vast economic impact on societies that must address the consequences of vulnerable young people who may turn to crime, who live in poverty, whose earning potential is compromised or eliminated. Not addressing these needs in turn creates opportunity costs which are virtually incalculable. In addition, the social and economic costs of tending to the marginalized create financial pressures amounting to billions of dollars annually. Research clearly shows that investing in children, especially early childhood, and youth have measurable economic and social returns that far surpass their costs. The plight of vulnerable children is an issue of human security, which, when worsened by deteriorating social or economic conditions, presents a threat to local, regional, national and global stability.
The United Nations Development Program has stated that human security entails both ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’, arguing that the social and economic impacts of hunger, disease and lack of opportunity have cost global society more than the combined impact of wars, acts of terror and natural disasters. The lack of human security among young populations is, then, especially destabilizing, and creates a weak foundation for countries’ futures and their economic and political development.