|Lao People's Democratic Republic: Two children look over the balcony of the immigration office into Thailand.|
Children and young people occupy a very unique time in the human cycle that deserves our special attention, and the best of our resources and investments. They are the major “social capital” of every society concerned with change for a better today and for the future of its members: Their education promises the chance of improving economic and social conditions; their positive socialization for conflict resolution can help manage social clashes; their health and good nutrition can promote longevity, lower social costs and lead to a better quality of life; and their psychological well-being has the promise of a more resilient and culturally rich society.
Most parents hope that their children will have a better quality of life than they have, and most of them work hard towards achieving this goal. The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reminds us that children are full human beings in their own right, who deserve the best that life can provide at every single stage of their development.
Children and young people, however, are not a homogenous group. At the beginning of the third millennium, children are being raised in a great variety of social arrangements, facing very different challenges in their daily lives. They have different dreams and aspirations for their futures. Many children in the world today do not live in an environment where they are protected by a loving family or can exercise their right to go to school.
Others have had to deal with unimaginable situations and catastrophes, as well as extremely difficult daily lives. They have experienced trauma, discrimination, suffering, atrocities and abuse and have responsibilities well beyond their years (The State of the World’s Children). Despite this, most children are capable of responding to positive communication, and of developing to their full potential.