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11th TDF: RED CROSS CONFERENCE (3/22/2009)

RED CROSS CONFERENCE

Problems faced by children in today’s society and their family environment was the focus of the Conference held by the Red Cross “Children in an Adult World”, which took place on Sunday, March 22, at the Olympion as part of the 11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

Voula Patoulidou, Olympic champion and coordinator of the Volunteer Section of the Hellenic Red Cross moderated the conference. Speakers were: the president of the Hellenic Red Cross Andreas Martinis, director of the Hippocration Hospital of Thessaloniki Kriton Christianopoulos, the president of the Athens Observatory Christos Zerefos, the president of the “Smile of the Child” Organization Kostas Yiannopoulos, writer Theodoros Karzis and the Psychiatrist – Psychologist Dimitris Kountouris.

Voula Patoulidou opened the Conference by thanking Dimitri Eipides, Artistic Director of the 11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

Christos Zerefos said: “The education of children must start at home, with the family. This is where he will learn to respect the rights of others”. Speaking about the relationship between children and respect for the environment, he stressed that environmental education has to begin at a young age and added: “Children must learn early on not to waste water, to conserve energy and to respect the environment. For this to happen, politicians must stop constantly changing laws on education, thus destroying the respect of children for their teachers”.

Then Kriton Christianopoulos spoke about modern couples, saying that most marriages end in divorce, having a negative effect on the psychology of the child. “Parents need to say ‘no’ to their children, to not fight in front of them and to keep discipline, which is different from being autocratic. Children don’t need perfect or all-powerful parents, but parents who love them”, he explained.

Kostas Yiannopoulos spoke about children who are in danger both in and out of their family environment. “At Smile of the Child we receive dozens of abuse reports every day, calls about child beggars who are in need of immediate removal from their environment. Unfortunately, we have had to refuse shelter to roughly 860 cases, because of a lack of space”, Mr. Yiannopoulos stressed and added: “It’s easy to criticize, but difficult to find solutions. If these children end up becoming criminals it will not be their fault but the fault of the lack of interest from adults. Everyone needs to make a greater effort.”

Theodoros Karzis, writer of the book “Children in an Adult World” noted that children are not at the top of the list of priorities in modern society. “Children don’t just need material goods which are plenty in the western world. They need the interest of their families and the educational companionship of adults”, he noted. Focusing on the gap between developing and developed countries as regards childrearing, Mr. Karzis stated: “In the western world parents spend a great deal of time away from their children. When they are home they have to make up for lost time and not sit in front of the television or go to sporting events”.

Dimitris Kountouris said that he worries about the transformation of the contemporary world into a society of the aged: “Our society is aging and we have to deal with the special illnesses of old people and a series of modern illnesses and syndromes plaguing children. I consider that governments must direct their efforts at bridging this gap, which is getting wider as time goes by”, he noted.

Voula Patoulidou spoke about the new generation which, as she said, finds it difficult to incorporate itself into the adult world. “Adults are afraid to admit to the problems they are leaving to young children. Corruption, crime, lack of honor, loneliness. I believe in the arrogance of youth and I would worry more if there weren’t rebellions of youth against a world which even we don’t like”.

Then Andreas Martinis spoke, summing up the Conference: “The child, due to the bad conditions it is growing up with is victim of its environment, while it gradually becomes the perpetrator of abuse of the next child. If, through this conference we managed to inform, sensitize and have given some small thing to change the gray world of many children, then I believe we have succeeded in our goal”.

Finally, the Hellenic Red Cross had a great surprise for the minority schools of Thrace, which had participated in the conference, by giving them endowments totaling 50.000 Euros, in memory of Cleo Misiroglou, wife of doctor and AUT professor Anastasios Misiroglou.

The schools receiving the endowment are the following:

- 4th Minority School of Komotini, Rodopi Prefecture, 10.000 Euros
- Ano Virsini Minority School, Rodopi Prefecture 10.000 Euros
- Kympi Minority School, Rodopi Prefecture, 10.000 Euros
- Glafki Minority School, Xanthi Prefecture, 10.000 Euros
- Pachni Minority School, Xanthi Prefecture, 10.000 Euros


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