Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Lawmakers `should listen to children'

YOUTHFUL ANGLE Young people from around the world will be looking for solutions to global problems affecting children at a four-day summit that started yesterday

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

By listening to children, adults will be able to make better laws to protect the rights of the young.

This is the opinion of Luo Tsan-ching (羅燦慶), chairman of the Taiwan Children's Rights Association, who delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the second annual Taiwan Children's Summit yesterday.

"It is an international trend to take children's input seriously. Germany, for instance, is even considering giving citizens under the age of 18 the right to vote," Luo said.

Among the 104 young ambassadors from around the world taking part in the summit, 73 are from Taiwan.

The rest are from Japan, Canada, Honduras, el Salvador, Germany, the US, Malaysia, Senegal, South Korea and Norway.

"The four key issues that will be discussed at the summit are life safety, traffic safety, games safety and Internet safety. Because children from all over the world have gathered here, they might be able to find solutions together to global problems affecting children," Luo said.

Kao Chieh (高婕) from Hualien, the 15-year-old host of the summit, said, "Through participating in the summit last year I learned about issues surrounding child abuse and children's rights. I also made many friends from Taiwan and other countries."

Huang Pei-hsia (黃碧霞), director of the Children's Bureau under the Ministry of the Interior, shared her views on parenting.

"Nowadays, parents should listen to their children more and follow their children's will, instead of just giving orders," Huang said.

In 20 or 30 years, Huang said, the children taking part in this summit will be the world's leaders.

Because they are learning about children's issues at this early stage in their lives, they will be more concerned about the rights of children when they grow up, Huang said.

"Last year, after attending the summit, an ambassador from Taoyuan became very worried about the safety of children crossing a busy street near her school. She decided to file complaints to various government institutions and even to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Finally, her efforts paid off and the street was made safer for children to cross," said Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟), a DPP Legislator and former chairman of the Taiwan Children's Rights Association.

Michelle, an 11-year-old girl from El Salvador who has moved to Taiwan with her family, was very excited about the conference.

"After my mom told me about this event, I decided to participate right away. I am hoping to meet new friends here," Michelle said.

The four-day summit is organized by the Taiwan Children's Rights Association and sponsored by the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and Education.

The summit is being held at the Chien Tan Overseas Youth Activity Center.

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