Great Decisions at the Westfield Library - "Children"

Tonight we have the next to final session of this year's Great Decision series of Foreign Policy talks in the Westfield Library. From all the topics that the Foreign Policy Association has collected for this year's "Great Decisions", the topic of children (early death, medical issues, education, exploitation and abuse) is - for me -conceptually the most difficult to grasp, to understand and to formulate a policy to resolve.
We had two speakers tonight, that were in my opinion, both slightly off topic. One person pretty much gave a marketing presentation of UNICEF with a somewhat limited perspective and a clear intention to stay politically correct and to not truly speak what she was thinking. This limited the ability to have an open fact- based discussion. The other person talked very specifically about problems with the foster care system in Romania. I'm not trying to downplay this issue, but in the grand scheme of things, with millions of children dying every year, widespread lack of adequate health care and exploitation and abuse, this is a different magnitude of problem. It is a very specific issues and not at the heart of the topic.

Overall, this was probably the weakest session in the series so far. I went away with the sense that this a very serious problem, but the evening has not helped me to better understand the issues or potential solutions for them. But then the topic is not really that suitable for the type of discussion and speaker coverage that worked quite well with other topics, like war crimes.

Conceptually, death, suffering and exploitation of children all over the world is not so much a problem per se, but a symptom of other underlying problems, poverty the most important one. Based on that, there are really only two strategies to resolve the issue at the root. Solve the poverty issue, or reduce the amount of children born into poverty. The latter is particularly true as too many children in a family is often one additional factor that contributes to poverty. Solving the poverty issue is not easy and many smart people are working on strategies. Reducing the number of children born into poverty should be easier. It is called family planning. I believe we should encourage the countries suffering from the problems discussed above to seriously engage in family planning support and education. Besides some religious reservations - which we as rational people should be able to overcome for the purpose of a worthy goal - there is no reason not to focus on this. It certainly is not the one and only solution, but it could give a us a good start.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

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