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2014年5月 6日 (火)

こどもの日 無限の可能性を大切に育もう

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:09 pm, May 05, 2014
Children need help to ensure their unlimited potential blossoms
こどもの日 無限の可能性を大切に育もう

“That one step, leads to the future, the path to dreams.”
 「そのいっぽ みらいにつづく ゆめのみち」――。

This slogan for child welfare week, which starts on Children’s Day on Monday, was composed by a 7-year-old girl in Chiba Prefecture. The slogan evokes a sense of the unlimited potential of children. We should nurture it with care.
「こどもの日」から始まる児童福祉週間の今年の標語だ。千葉県の7歳の女の子が作った。子供の無限の可能性が感じられる。それを大切に育みたい。

An increasing number of primary schools across the nation have been holding an event, dubbed “one-half coming-of-age ceremony,” to commemorate children reaching the age of 10, half the 20 years they must reach to come of age. The event, for fourth graders, became popular after a Japanese textbook introduced it about 10 years ago.
 各地の小学校で近年、「2分の1成人式」という催しが広まっている。20歳を祝う成人式の半分の10歳を迎えたことを記念して、4年生を対象に行われる。10年ほど前、国語の教科書で紹介されたのを機に盛んになったという。

The event generally features children talking about their future dreams and expressing gratitude to their families in front of an audience, as well as parents handing their children letters that look back on their earlier years.
 子供が将来の夢や家族への感謝の言葉を発表したり、保護者が子供に、その成長を振り返る手紙を贈ったりするのが一般的だ。

A survey of parents revealed that they thought the ceremony provided children an opportunity to move toward becoming independent. Some respondents said their children became more aware of their responsibilities about their own lives and began to do homework and help out at home on their own initiative, while others said their children began to meekly listen to what their parents had to say when they were scolded, although they showed their resentment in the past.
The event significantly helps children’s growth as it provides an opportunity for them to nurture their dreams and set their minds on goals for the future.
 「自分の人生に対する責任を自覚したことで、宿題やお手伝いを進んでやり始めた」「叱っても以前のようにふてくされず、素直に聞くようになった」
 保護者を対象にしたアンケートからは、式をきっかけに自立へ向けて歩み始めた子供たちの様子が伝わってくる。
 自らの夢を膨らませ、将来への決意を新たにする。子供の成長にとって大きな意味を持つ取り組みと言えるだろう。

Financial problems

However, it is true that not all families can provide the stability needed for children to channel their energy into studying without anxiety.
 ただ、子供たちが安心して勉強に励めるような、安定した家庭ばかりではないのも事実だ。

The percentage of children in financially strapped families, whose incomes are less than half of the median income of Japanese households, is on the rise. In 2009, this percentage registered a record 15.7 percent, meaning that about one out of six children came from such families.
 所得が国民全体の中央値の半分に満たない。そうした貧困家庭で暮らす子供の割合は、増加傾向にある。2009年には、これまでで最悪の15・7%に達した。ほぼ6人に1人にあたる。

There is a conspicuous number of cases in which children have been unable to attend high school or university for financial reasons, preventing them from landing stable jobs. This “chain of poverty” from parents to children must be broken.
 経済上の理由で高校や大学に進学できず、安定した仕事に就けないケースも目立つ。親から子への「貧困の連鎖」を断ち切らなければならない。

A law dealing with child poverty, which was put into force in January, obliges the state to take countermeasures to help such children. As early as July the government is expected to decide on a set of specific measures, which we hope will contain effective steps.
 子どもの貧困対策法が1月に施行され、必要な施策を実施することが国の責務となった。7月にも具体策を定めた大綱が決まる。実効性のある内容が求められる。

The Saitama prefectural government has entrusted a private organization to provide free after-school classes to middle school students whose families receive livelihood protection benefits, a measure that has proved effective in raising the ratio of children advancing to high school. Under the program, former teachers and others instruct students or regularly visit their homes. The carefully thought-out support is a model for other municipal governments trying to come up with appropriate measures.
 埼玉県は、民間団体に委託して、生活保護世帯の中学生向けに無料の学習教室を開き、高校進学率を向上させた。教員OBらが勉強を教え、定期的に家庭訪問もする。きめ細かい支援は他の自治体の参考になろう。

Families struggling with poverty and other livelihood problems tend to be isolated, which makes it difficult for public support to reach them. Establishing a regime to keep an eye on parents and children from both the pregnancy and child-rearing stages and then to provide crucial help is an important challenge. The task also is essential to prevent child abuse.
 貧困に限らず、生活上の困難を抱える家庭は孤立しがちで、支援が届きにくい。妊娠・出産期から子供と親を見守り、早期に適切な支援につなぐ体制を作る。児童虐待を防ぐ上でも重要な課題だ。

It is the responsibility of adults to build a society in which all children feel welcome after they enter this world and that they are treated with love.
 生まれてきたことを歓迎され、大切にされていると、すべての子供が実感できる。そんな社会を築くことが、大人の責任である。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 5, 2014)

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