International Children's Day - Compassion International

International Children's Day
"Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded." — Jess Lair, author
Help a child seize the chance to reach his or her fullest potential with a contribution to the Unsponsored Children's Fund.

Celebrating Children

International Children’s Day, which is not the same as Universal Children’s Day, is celebrated annually on June 1. Although widely celebrated, not all countries recognize June 1 as Children’s Day.

A group of Togolese children stand in front of a chalkboard

In the United States, Children’s Day is typically celebrated on the second Sunday in June. The tradition dates back to 1856 when the Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts, held a special service focused on children.

Over the years, several denominations declared or recommended an annual observance be held for children, but no government action has been taken. Past presidents have periodically proclaimed a National Child’s Day or National Children’s Day, but no official yearly celebration of National Children’s Day has been established in the United States.

The International Day for Protection of Children is also observed on June 1 and has helped elevate June 1 as the internationally recognized day to celebrate children. The International Day for Protection of Children became universally established in 1954 to protect children’s rights, end child labor and guarantee access to education.

Mankind Owes to Children the Best That It Has to Give

In 1925, the World Conference for the Well-being of Children declared June 1 as the day to draw the world’s attention to issues affecting children. The represented countries recognized that "mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give." As a result the Conference adopted the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

  1. The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually;
  2. The child that is hungry must be fed; the child that is sick must be nursed; the child that is backward must be helped; the delinquent child must be reclaimed; and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored;
  3. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress;
  4. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation;
  5. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of fellow men.

A group of smiling Togolese children.

In 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was based on the structure and contents of the Geneva Declaration and reaffirmed that "mankind owes to the child the best it has to give." This new declaration set forth 10 principles to safeguard children before as well as after birth and laid the groundwork for the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

"Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Child Sponsorship Celebrates Children

Millions of children throughout the world live in extreme poverty. Their families try to survive on less than $1.25 a day. The children are often deprived of medicine, education and shelter. Many live without access to clean water. They are unprotected and oppressed, starved of affection and opportunity and trapped in an cycle of disadvantage passed from one generation to another, if they're able to survive past childhood.

A group of Togolese children sitting on a bench.

For many children born into poverty their first day of life is also their last. Of those who survive their first day, many will die within the month. And even more will die before the age of five. But this need not continue.

Since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted, the global mortality rate for children under five years old has been cut in half. The world community is beginning to give its best to children. It's improving the odds for every child, giving them a chance to rise above disadvantage and discrimination, to push past predators and abuse, to fight off disease, ignorance, malnutrition and shame so they may live up to their fullest potential.

Through our Child Sponsorship Program we offer children the opportunity for a life released from poverty. We provide mentoring, critical medical resources and medical checkups, nutritious food, supplemental vitamins, health and hygiene training, educational assistance, emotional support, spiritual guidance and access to special services like surgeries and disaster relief.

If you want to help children in need claim their rights and their potential, sponsor a child. Child sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective methods for affecting beneficial change for the poor and many economists view it as the most effective long-term development intervention for helping the poor.1 Plus our Child Sponsorship Program is the only child sponsorship program to be independently and empirically validated as effective.

A group of Togolese children stand together with their arms on each other's shoulders.

Research conducted by Dr. Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and published in the April 2013 Journal of Political Economy found that Compassion-supported children stay in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers, are 27 to 40 percent more likely to finish secondary education and are 50 to 80 percent more likely to graduate college than those not enrolled in the program. The children are also 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment with roughly 35 percent more likelihood to secure white-collar employment as adults.

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International Children's Day Prayers

Heavenly Father, please strengthen the love that binds children to their families, shine your light on children and those working for the benefit of children, heal the many sick and suffering children in the world, and bless those who take care of them.

  • Pray for children living in poverty to be blessed with caring adults to instruct and guide them in life.
  • Pray for children, regardless of their circumstances, to grow mentally and spiritually, so they can realize their God-given potential.
  • Pray for families to be sanctuaries from stress and strife in their children lives and that the Lord may increase the love of children for their parents and the love of parents for their children.

Son of God, please comfort and provide for the world's orphans and abandoned children, protect them and encourage them, place people of goodwill into the lives of discouraged, confused and victimized children. May the children of the world, regardless of age, find hope and strength in you. Amen.

1 Wydick, Bruce. "Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor." Christianity Today. Accessed 17 February 2012