Why do children tease other kids?
Where do they learn to discriminate others? Perhaps the media or their surroundings. But have you considered the fact that children might have learned about discrimination from adults?
This is why parents and teachers ought to set good examples for children, making sure these young minds won’t be corrupted by prejudice, stigma, and misinformation.
It is our responsibility to teach children to respect diversity.
In Maguindanao, we met Rohana, a 12-year-old girl who aspires to end bullying in her school.
“Us children should not tease people who wear hijab,” Rohana said in Filipino. “Let’s say no to bullying, so we’ll have peace.”
The sixth-grader says that no child should ever be judged based on her or his physical looks, language, abilities, social class, religion, or any other factor.
Aside from supporting diversity, Rohana also encourages girls in her school to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
She wants to break the stereotype that only boys could excel in STEM.
Globally, less than 30% of researchers are women, the United Nations found. And among female students, only around 30% choose STEM-related fields, according to 2014-2016 UNESCO data.
These gender-based stereotypes need to stop. Never limit a girl’s options.
We need to let girls discover their own passion, allowing them to explore, grow, and learn as much as they can.
As for Rohana, her favorite subject is science. She hopes her school can have a new library.
When she grows up, she dreams of becoming a midwife as inspired by her cousins. “A midwife helps women during pregnancy and childbirth,” she explained.
“When my younger sibling was still a baby, I was the one who took care of her,” Rohana shared.
Rohana’s school is covered by Save the Children’s Spaces for Peace project, which ensures that children affected by armed conflict can freely and safely go on with their lives.
Students and teachers are also trained on their rights and responsibilities.
Rohana and the children of Maguindanao are not alone. Armed conflict also happens in other parts of the Philippines, however, most of the affected are those from the Mindanao.
As of 2016, the UN documented 38 children who were killed and maimed in the context of armed conflict. The UN also recorded a total of ten attacks affecting 12 schools, as well as the recruitment and use of nine boys between the ages of 13 to 17.
This should not be the norm.
All children deserve to enjoy their childhoods, free from worry and fear.
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