Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Syria’s War Children Will Grow Up Illiterate, UN Warns, Huffington Post

The conflict that has ravaged Syria for more than 2 1/2 years has hit the country’s children hard. Out of an estimated 93,000 killed, around 7,000 are children below the age of 15. Tens of thousands are believed to have been wounded. Hundreds of thousands of children have had their lives upended, fleeing their homes with their families either to different parts of Syria or abroad. Unknown numbers have been detained.

Syria “will have to face a generation of children who lost their childhood, have a lot of hate and are illiterate,” Leila Zerrougui, the United Nations’ special representative for children and armed conflict, said Thursday. She spoke in Beirut after a 3-day visit inside Syria, where she met with both government officials and rebel commanders fighting to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Education is one of the most obvious problems from the child victims of the conflict in the country of 24 million people. A recent report by the Britain-based charity Save the Children estimated that hundreds of thousands of children have not attended school in the past two years. It warned that the civil war is reversing one of Syria’s main pre-war achievements – in 2010, nearly all children of school age had completed primary school.

Inside Syria, thousands of schools have been destroyed. Others serve as shelters for displaced families. Some 5 million people have been driven from their homes, fleeing either elsewhere in Syria or abroad, around half of them children under 18.

11-Year-Old Girl Speaks Out On Child Marriage (She’s Against It), takepart.com

Kids, especially little girls, grow up fast in Yemen. It is not unheard of in Yemen for a child to become a married woman who has outlived a confining relationship and died in a despairing and defiant act of self-immolation by age 14.

In the video chastisement of her parents below, 11-Year-Old Yemeni girl Nada Al-Ahdal clearly articulates that in the semi-lawless territories of Yemen, the realities of families selling off their pre-adolescent daughters to men twice or three times the bride’s age is a human rights violation most vile. Unlike arranged marriages when exercised by the royal courts of Europe, for many female children in so-called developing nations, these contracted unions are nothing short of death sentences.

Nada says she has fled the home of her parents because Mom and Dad had threatened to kill her if she refused to play the sacrificial maiden in a marriage they had set up for her.

Taking sanctuary in the house of her uncle, little Nada counters her parents’ death threat with a promise to commit suicide if she is forced to the connubial bed they have made for her.

More than 5 million people have viewed this confident, forceful and charismatic girl’s plea to protect common decency and the innocence of being a kid.

13-Year-Old Discovers a Way to Combat Hunger in America, takepart.com

In a recent interview with TakePart, McKenna Greenleaf Faulk explained that one in six Americans are at risk of hunger. Meanwhile, this country wastes about 40 percent of all edible food. If Americans wasted just 15 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 25 million people. Not to mention how it would help the environment since nearly 33 million tons of waste end up in landfills.

“The average American wastes about 28 to 43 pounds of food a month,” McKenna, 13, says. “If we wasted less food, we could feed more people.”

That’s why she and some classmates at Thomas Starr King Middle School in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles are working to curb food waste. They have launched 37 Degrees From Hunger at their school and hope to become a model for other schools across the country.

“I can’t start off big with the entire population, but I can make a change in my community and maybe that can be a message for everyone,” she says.

Alexandra Wolf

About Alexandra Wolf

Alex Wolf is a third year law student at the University of Houston Law Center. In 2010, she received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to attending law school, Alex worked as a paralegal at the Lanier Law Firm’s Los Angeles office. During college, Alex interned for Covenant House Texas, a shelter for at-risk youth as well as for Conscious Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating hunger for children and adults alike. Alex also served as an undergraduate research assistant analyzing deviant and suicidal tendencies and behaviors. This summer, Alex worked as a law clerk for Berg & Androphy, a firm specializing in white-collar defense and qui tam actions. Alex is on the Houston Journal of International Law and serves as secretary for the Immigration and Human Rights Law Society.

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