The systematic institutionalization of children … is the one form of child abuse that we could eradicate in our lifetime (Georgette Mulheir)
There are currently more than 8 million children who live in institutions and so-called orphanages. 90% of them do have a family but live in an institution because of poverty, disability or ethnicity. It is now well known that institutionalization damages children's health, development and future life prospects. According to a study undertaken by the British NGO "Lumos", young adults raised in institutions are 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution than their peers, 40 times more likely to have a criminal record and 500 times more likely to take their own lives. The situation is even worse for children with disabilities.
The process of de-institutionalization implies not only a closure of these institutions but also, and above all, community and family based solutions, being said that the child's needs are at the heart of the decision making process.
Georgette Mulheir, the CEO of Lumos, who was recently listed as one of the "30 Most Influential Social Workers Alive Today", delivered a poignant and persuasive speech as a TED talker. Her speech says it all.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.