The National Assembly hosted a student parliament session organized by the “Friends of Children of Serbia”.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Prof. Dr Vladimir Marinkovic opened the session greeting the young parliamentarians on behalf of National Assembly Speaker Maja Gojkovic, all the MPs, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and himself.
Deputy Speaker Marinkovic said that the National Assembly traditionally hosts student parliament sessions where the young people take on the role of parliamentarians to exchange experiences and opinions and voice their problems.
The National Assembly wishes to raise awareness of the importance of the student parliament and contribute to its development as a form of child participation in decision-making. The participation in the work of the student parliament and its operation are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the fundamental document for the activities planned for Children’s Week, said Marinkovic. Today’s student parliament session focuses on the importance and challenges traditional and new media hold for children and children’s right to free speech.
“Every child has the right to freely express their opinion and have that opinion taken into consideration in all matters and actions that concern them”, said Marinkovic.
He spoke about the immense role the media play in the growing up process, their growing impact on children and young people in relation to media content which calls for stricter parental control, as well as control by authorities in charge of supervising the work of the media in cases where media laws are violated at the detriment of the child, said Marinkovic.
Children and young people are susceptible to media influence, habits and content and are not aware of its strong impact, which is why it is vital to work on media literacy and skills.
Marinkovic stressed that the fight for human freedom and freedom of speech is never over, freedom is won and reaffirmed with each day. He said that children, with the support of their parents, society and state should build a positive self-image and work on their self-confidence and self-respect.
“It is our duty to send a clear message that we should all work together to build a healthy and tolerant society where the media will respect children’s rights and to protect them from content that can harm their moral, intellectual and emotional development. In the child’s best interest, all the relevant factors must invest additional efforts into making it possible for children to develop their potentials, to create equal opportunities for every child and an environment where every child will feel safe, protected, happy and healthy”, Marinkovic concluded.
The young parliamentarians were also addressed by State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development Annamaria Vicsek, Executive Director of the Friends of the Children of Serbia Iva Erakovic, UNICEF representative, representative of the Ministry of Culture and the Media Maja Zaric and psychologist Prvoslav Plavsic.
Drawing attention to the fact that this year is the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the participants opined that children and young people are not sufficiently represented in the media and that youth-related media content is lacking. Children need to be educated in media literacy, to advance their skills and knowledge and enabled to choose from the media information available only what is correct and useful. They told the young parliamentarians that their requests need to be loud and clear, to hear positive examples, not just criticisms, to work on advancing the society and offer more ideas how to solve potential problems.