Federation urges parents not to involve their wards in political activity

Children’s Federation of slum children of Berhampur on Friday has urged all political parties and candidates contesting elections not to use children in their campaign.

The federation consisting of 22 children’s clubs in major slums aims to motivate children on issues related to child rights and development of their respective areas. Around 150 members of the federation got together at Ganjam Kala Parishad auditorium on Friday to discuss their stance during elections. Activists of Youth for Social Development (YSD), who were catalysts in the formation of children’s clubs as well as the Children’s Federation, attended the meeting.

Anjali Patra, a class IX student, president of Children’s Federation, said through discussions and from the media they had come to know that neither any political party nor their candidates have any clear policy for children. “Even during political speeches and debates, issues related to children’s rights were being sidelined,” she said.

But most of the children, who attended the meeting, said during election rallies and meetings, small children were being used as flag or banner carriers.

Swapna Jena, a class VI student of Raghupati Nagar slum and Sibani Das of Phulasundari Sahi slum said it was sad to see small children in rallies rather than in schools.

The federation has decided that none of the members of the 22 children’s clubs would participate in any political rally.

“We will urge other children and their parents not to get their wards involved in political activity,” said Ms. Patra. The federation has also decided to write to all political parties and their candidates requesting them to refrain from using children for campaigning.

The federation has come up with a children’s manifesto, which they will hand over to all the candidates contesting in the city.