What if children were “the red line”?

A slight detour for this blog, but something struck me over the weekend as I watched and read some of the horrific reports coming out of Syria.

“Another grim milestone has been reached in the two-and-half-year conflict that has gripped Syria, with the United Nations announcing 1 million children have now fled over the border to escape the relentless violence.

The UN agencies for refugees and children, UNHCR and UNICEF, also estimate another 2 million children are internally displaced within Syria and at least 7,000 have been killed.”


The UN has also estimated that 6000 children have died in the conflict.

Over the last few days, the international community has responded to reports that the Syrian Government has used chemical warfare on its own citizens.

Many in international governments and the media have described this as a “red line” which, if proved to have been crossed, could be the impetus for military force to be used by the United States and other powers.

I have only an amateur’s interest in geopolitics and the policy decisions of military engagements – but a question struck me as these reports were coming.

What if children were “the red line”?

What if, as an international community, the “line” is crossed when children are massacred, or displaced, or tortured?

What would this mean for international relations? This is a rhetorical question, I don’t have the answers – I would love to hear what people think. Please comment below!

I will just add this. Air strikes and military engagements (including drone strikes) in Iraq and Afghanistan, by our partners and allies and in our name as Australians, have been responsible for potentially thousands of child deaths.

Nelson Mandela once said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.

By Liam McNicholas

I am an experienced early childhood teacher, writer and advocate. As well as managing community not-for-profit early childhood operations in a variety of roles, I have advocated for children's human rights; the need for investment in early childhood education; and for professional recognition and wages for those working in early childhood education and care.

I am available to be commissioned for freelance writing, editing, event speaking and consulting work.

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