Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Different World, Different Risks

A recent New York Times op-ed listed some of the health risks and threats to children today. They include obesity, due in part to the marketing of junk food, exposure to violent and sexually explicit electronic media content, thanks to little regulation, the increasing number of children who are medicated with psychotropic drugs, again facilitated by little regulation. These are all real risks, and the writer ties them to the rise of the corporation, a legally defined person, whose goals (profit) are at times in conflict with the best interest of other legal persons, like children.

Now, you probably know where this post is going. The risks that the writer details only apply to a certain small (relatively speaking) group of children: those from the developed world.

For our friend, above, from Wharf Jermie, a slum in Haiti, and billions like him, these risks don't threaten him, but a host of others do, some of which you can see in the picture. Dirty water carries all kinds of deadly diseases--typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhea. Malnutrition leads to stunted growth and development and sometimes death. Lack of health care, schooling, safe housing, a safe environment all pose huge risks to children, as do the lack of competent child welfare or criminal justice systems. There is a lot of child abuse in the developing world.

The children of Haiti don't have to worry about obesity, violent video games, or psychotropic drugs.

On the plus side, they are forced to exercise their creativity. This boy and his friends were having a lot of fun with their car, made from a plastic bottle and lids.

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