Lord Buddha taught us that karuna (compassion, or love for all beings) stands alongside prajna (wisdom) as a central pillar of the Buddhist faith.
All Buddhists, and many non-Buddhists, around the world, consider Gautam Buddha as the greatest messenger of peace. He was truly a Prince of Peace, who renounced his Kingdom to spread the message of peace and compassion to the whole world. But unfortunately, his message of peace and non-violence is not followed widely today.
The world is experiencing an excess of violence not only in the forms of war and conflict but also in the community, schools and homes. Children and women are often the most vulnerable victims of violence.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), violence kills more than 1.6 million people every year. These alarming statistics are the tip of the iceberg. These violent acts are frequently committed behind closed doors and are largely unreported. WHO estimates that 40 million children below the age of 15 suffer from abuse and neglect and require health and social care.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines violence as: “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.”
Tragically, most violent acts against children are carried out by people children know and trust.
Too many children around the world suffer violence at home, in school, in their communities or in other settings where they should feel nurtured and safe.
Improving the welfare of children is an urgent global challenge and violence against children is a major threat to human development. To realize our common goals of health, safety and dignity for children, people and organizations committed to children’s rights must work together.
It is a sacred duty of all Buddhists to prevent violence against women and children. In this context, many organizations, including UN agencies and faith-based organizations have recently formed a partnership to work together in a global campaign to promote the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) is celebrated each year on or around November 20, to coincide with Universal Children’s Day which is also the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On that day people of faith and goodwill assemble in their places of worship – temples, wats, monasteries, churches, mosques, etc. and offer prayers for children and undertake specific actions in their community for the well-being of children.
The International Network of Engaged Buddhists is proud to join the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC). We are a member of the Executive Council of DPAC. We urge all Buddhists to join hands with other religious organizations, local governments, UN agencies such as UNICEF, and child-oriented non-governmental organizations to participate in DPAC in our common effort to improve the rights, dignity and well-being of children.
A World Day event typically begins with a faith celebration organized by religious leaders in the community to pray and recommit themselves to working for children’s well-being.
The celebration is usually followed by a collaborative “take action” project carried out with local community groups, government, UN agencies or other faith-based organizations to meet the needs of children in that community.
The theme of DPAC for the period 2011-2013 is to Stop Violence against Children. Some of the “take action” projects to prevent violence against children include:
- Positive parenting projects on non-violent child rearing techniques
- Birth registration drives for child protection
- Campaigns against early marriage to empower girls and families.
A briefing workshop on the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children will be held at the INEB conference at Bodhgaya, India on 26 October 2011. World Day of Prayer and Action for Children
Further information about the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, can be obtained from Ms. Meg Gardinier, Director of the World Day Secretariat in New York ( Mgardinier@dayofprayerandaction.org).
To help with designing special events, interfaith services and “take action” activities, please sign up for DPAC newsletter at the website: www.dayofprayerandaction.org