Robert Fathman, Ph.D., President, National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools, comments on Gambia's celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
November 20, 2001

Here is a very interesting news article out of Africa showing a stark contrast to the U.S. "Gambia celebrates the 12th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child." The Vice President of that country, Mrs. Saidy, eloquently speaks to the issue of humane discipline of children. In fact every nation in the world has now ratified this treaty except two -- Somalia, and the United States. The Convention was signed by President Clinton early in his first term, but under U.S. law treaties require ratification by the Senate. The conservative right wingers in the Senate have blocked ratification. When you read the brief article below, picture how nice it would be if those words were flowing from the mouth of George Bush or his wife, Laura. The U.S. not only has failed to participate with the rest of the world in embracing this document, but still allows educators in 23 states to hit children with boards. Among all of the developed countries in the world, only two others continue to allow corporal punishment in schools.

Bob Fathman

The article follows.

Abuja Commemorates Convention On the Rights of the Child
Gambia Radio & TV News (Banjul)
November 20, 2001

Tijan Janneh Statement

The Gambia joins the rest of the world today to commemorate 12 years of the coming into force of the convention on the rights of the child, CRC. The theme this year is "violence and corporal punishment against children in schools and homes".

The Convention has now been ratified by 191 countries worldwide and its development was based on the realisation of the importance of translating the essential needs of children into obligation which are called rights.

In a statement to mark the day, the Vice president Mrs Isatou Njie Saidy said a lot of progress has been made in relation to the rights of children and it is therefore important to reflect on the implementation of the conventions provisions. Mrs Saidy revealed that a syllabus on human rights and the rights of the child has been drafted and will be taught in Gambian schools once it is finalised.

Mrs saidy called on development partners to join hands with government to ensure that every child is free to grow to adulthood in good health , peace and dignity. Mrs Saidy observed that a number of children could be seen on the street and some are affected by child labour, violence , early marriage and other forms of abuse. She therefore emphasized the need to sensitise parents , teachers and other carers to adopt non violent and dignified ways to discipline children.

Also to commemorate the day, the resident co-ordinator of the UN System in the Gambia, Mr John.O. Kakonge said we need to protect the rights of children because they are vulnerable being under the influence of adults, leaders of tomorrow, and the ones who will formulate policies, pass legislations, establish visions and pursue the social and economic development of our countries. Dr Kakonge also said that children are the ones who will carry on with the universal message of peace , compassion and wealth sharing.

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