On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Haigazian University organized a seminar entitled “Children at Risk in Lebanon.”
This was the third seminar in the series of lectures organized for the occasion of the 55th Anniversary of the university and it was also done in celebration of Children’s Week in Lebanon.
The opening address was given by Dr. ArdaEkmekji, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who welcomed everyone and spoke of the rights and needs of children in Lebanon today.
“We are their guardians and we should commit ourselves to the fulfillment of their rights,” Ekmekji asserted, after which she listed the basic rights of every child.
Ekmekji concluded by thanking the organizers of this seminar and the audience for their presence.
Representing the Higher Council of Childhood in Lebanon, Sanaa Awada presented the role and activities of the council in child care and advocacy of rights.
Awada introduced the council, which was established in 1994 and is presided by the Minister of Social Affairs. She then went over the numerous activities planned for the near future, including changes in the educational, social and legislative fields.
Awada ended her presentation with a national action plan for “the prevention and protection of children from all forms of violence, maltreatment, and neglect.”
The following speaker, Soha Bsat Boustani was there to discuss the situation of children in Lebanon from the perspective of UNICEF.
Boustani gave a general introduction to the work of UNICEF, and focused her presentation on having children live in a protected environment free from “violence, exploitation, abuse and unnecessary separation from the family.”
She also discussed the laws and policies that need to be put in place in order to ensure the children’s protection.
The final speaker was Dr. Rula Khouri, Head of the Department of Sociology at St. Joseph University, who presented a field study on “child labor in Lebanon.”
Khouri described the methodology and preliminary findings of the study on child labor in North Lebanon and in the Bekaa led by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Université Saint-Joseph. The study was part of the project on strengthening national action to combat the worst forms of labor in Lebanon launched by the International Labor Organization.
The seminar was concluded by a discussion led by a group of Haigazian social work graduates on the subject of “Working with Families at Risk”. Rita Lao, Raquel Keshishian and Maya Hammadi shared their experiences on the ground, emphasizing on the concept of having children grow up to adapt in different situations and be “survivors” or else become “potentials” that are nurtured in a safe environment.