Basic Moral Values

Different solutions to these questions are evaluated herein in terms of basic moral values: Solutions are judged to be superior when they fairly promote children's well-being and opportunities to flourish and help children become empowered, self-fulfilled persons who can develop their potential. The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (United Nations General Assembly) endorsed these basic values, underscoring their wide acceptance.

These values received international support because most adults want to help children and recognize their responsibility to assist them. They also promote stability by helping address inequalities of the "natural lottery" (inequalities caused by nature, such as health status) and the "social lottery" (inequalities caused by social factors, such as wealth, schooling, and family). Children are not responsible for those inequalities, yet they affect whether children will thrive and flourish. Adequate healthcare and social services enhance children's well-being and opportunities by treating diseases, in some cases returning children from the brink of death or permanent disability to full and healthy lives. These services also restore or maintain compromised function, avert or ameliorate suffering, and prevent disease or disabilities through interventions or counseling. Basic prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and social services not only make children's lives better, they provide society with healthier and more productive citizens.

The focus of this discussion is primarily on preadolescent children, who clearly are not responsible for their quality of life or its inequities and who need help in making prudent decisions.

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