Poverty in Malta ‘an invisible but ugly reality’, Child Commissioner warns

Pauline Miceli reiterates that use of children in fundraising campaigns is 'pathetic', draws parallels with child orphans begging on the streets in the past    

Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli
Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli

Several children in Malta are materially deprived, which leaves them socially excluded from their peers, child commissioner Pauline Miceli warned.

“Poverty may be invisible in Malta, but it is an ugly reality that affects children and elderly people most,” Miceli said on Monday night’s edition of Reporter. “Some children are materially deprived, some are unable to afford a holiday, and this leaves them excluded from their peer groups. Unfortunately, the reality is that everything costs money in this day and age.”

Not one to mince her words, the former headmistress of the Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School reiterated that the use of children in fundraising campaigns, such as l-Istrina, is “pathetic”.

“It hurt me listening to continuous TV and radio adverts that used children to convince people to donate money,” she told host Saviour Balzan. “If children need care, then it follows that they have a right to care and should be granted it.

“However, the tone of the children’s voices in the adverts speaks volumes, and indeed it took me back some 40 years ago when nuns used to go with child orphans to beg for money.

Should we once again expose children to this undignified behaviour?”

She added that the Commission is drawing up guidelines on the use of children in election campaigns, that will be presented to the political parties before the end of the year.

“I think the political parties agree on the need for guidelines in this regard,” she said. “We must be particularly careful in the current age of social media, as pictures that are uploaded online can stay there forever.

“Pictures of children in certain poses can be used and manipulated, and damage the children in those photographs.”

‘New entertainment zones for youth needed’

Miceli urged the authorities and local councils to create new entertainment zones for youths within communities, that could serve as alternatives to Paceville.

“Every local council complains about youth vandalizing playgrounds,” she said, drawing on her experience as Naxxar councillor. “However, their solution tends to be to close the playgrounds without creating alternatives for youths who want to meet up with their friends within communities.” 

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