Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high
school curriculum in:
Christian lifestylescaring for the world's
children; family life
Psychologythe needs of children; mental
and emotional health; developmental psychology
Social studiesglobal citizenship; international
Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom,
Parish sacramental preparation programs and
CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion
groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful
in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home
study, at family activities.
Basic Terms in This Months Article
for the key words and terms below as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the
glossary page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Enduring Shame of Slavery
We in the United States may be shocked to learn that slavery
still exists in the world. Within our own nation we fought
War to eradicate slavery. We further clashed with one
another 100 years later during the Civil
Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s to ensure equal
rights for all races. The United
Nations, in its 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, states, "No one shall be
held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade
shall be prohibited in all their forms." This month's article
sadly informs us not only that slavery is still very much
alive in the nearby Caribbean, but also that children are
the ones enslaved.
The place is Haiti, ironically a country originally founded
by former slaves. Europeans imported slaves from Africa to
the Caribbean as early as the 16th century. An 1802 slave
insurrection against their French owners led to the forming
of the free country of Haiti.
Haiti is presently about 85% Catholic, with strong influences
(Voodoo, the African word for spirit). Although baptized as
Catholics, many Haitians reverted to Vodun because there was
no Catholic infrastructure in the country. Some scholars say
that Vodun persists as a form of resistance to the forced
conversion to European Catholicism and as a sign of ethnic
pride. (See Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global
Economy by Kevin Bales.)
In this largely Catholic country, perhaps 300,000 enslaved
children today struggle to survive. Jean-Robert Cadet, a man
who was himself a child slave, wrote a book to bring this
shameful practice to light. A Haitian child slave is called
from the French reste avec (stay with). Parents struggling
in extremely poor rural conditions send a child to stay with
someone in the city in the hope of providing a better life
for the child. Sometimes it works. More often it results in
a life of slave labor.
Caring for the Children of the World
The abuses inflicted upon the children of our world are
far too common. The slave conditions in Haiti break the bodies
and the spirits of many thousands of youngsters. The orphanages
in Romania warehouse infants and young children made parentless
by civil strife. On television we channel-surf past the faces
of starving children in Third World countries. The evening
news all too often recounts another violent tragedy inflicted
upon school-age children by adults.
The scope of the abuse, the numbers of children affected,
are overwhelming. Beyond crying out in horror, what can we
On an immediate level, raising money to send to relief
agencies always helps. Sponsoring a child at the Family
Circle Boys Home in Haiti, for example, will provide schooling
for boys fortunate enough to have escaped slavery. The Restavec
Foundation also helps Haitian children start new lives.
Informing others of the situation increases public awareness.
Circulate this article to your friends and teachers. Read
some of the links and pass them on as well. You may want to
donate a copy of Jean-Robert Cadet's book to your school or
Relief efforts fill an important need. However, taking a
long-term perspective is critical if we are to effect change
that will ensure the survival of our children and our society.
The future of our children is the future of our society.
In The Irreducible Needs of Children, a pediatrician,
T. Berry Brazelton,
and a child psychiatrist, Stanley I. Greenspan, articulate
what our society needs to survive. The authors begin by defining
what every child needs in the first years of life. They identify
a child's irreducible needs as:
The need for ongoing nurturing relationships
The need for physical protection, safety and regulation
The need for experiences tailored to individual differences
The need for developmentally appropriate experiences
The need for limit-setting, structure and expectations
The need for stable, supportive communities and cultural
Protecting the future
Brazelton and Greenspan go on to examine the visible threats
to our children's future: nuclear weapons, global warming,
toxic substances, widespread diseases such as AIDS, biological
weapons. None of these threats, however, compare to the basic
need for a society to survive and give birth to new generations.
The authors call for a previously unseen international cooperation
in protecting the future of children in both developed and
developing nations. Providing for the needs of all our children
means producing citizens with a humane capacity for solving
the world's shared problems.
Who will these humane citizens be? People like you! Author
Purdy says that some of our leaders will be those who
perform direct community service in homeless shelters, urban
tutoring programs and Habitat for Humanity. These women and
men will learn through their service to design better programs
and build better schools. They may not be world-famous, Purdy
says. Many will not be national figures. Some will be known
only in their own communities, their own schools, their own
parishes. Through effort and patience, however, they will
become the strong leaders we need for our future. Anyone,
he reminds us, can do this.
For instance, at age 12, Craig Kielburger read a newspaper
report in Canada about the murder of a former child laborer
in Pakistan. Since then, Craig and his organization, Free
the Children, have been working to free children from
poverty, exploitation and abuse.
Purdy also states that some of our leaders are being formed
on college campuses. One group of students, for example, pressures
college administrators nationwide to avoid buying school sweatshirts
from companies that use sweatshop or child labor, manufacture
in unsafe factories and pay poverty wages. Through local influences
they impact national companies and international policies.
Anyone can lead like this. Any one of us can impact society's
Former soccer professional Jim Kneady and Leslie Kretzu,
a human-rights activist, speak out against sweatshop practices
through their organization The Living Wage Project. Kneady
and Kretzu spent a summer living in solidarity on a $1.25
daily wage with Nike factory workers in Tangerang, Indonesia.
Read about their experience.
18:1, the disciples, no doubt jostling for position and
rank, question Jesus about who is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. Jesus set a small child in front of them and offered
an unexpected answer: "I tell you solemnly, unless you change
and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom
of heaven. And so the one who makes himself as little as this
little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The Irreducible Needs of Children, T. Berry Brazelton
and Stanley I. Greenspan, Perseus
Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2000.
Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy,
Kevin Bales, University of California Press.
Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American,
Jean-Robert Cadet, University of Texas Press, 1998.