The Joint Commission on the Mental Health of Children has proposed a "Bill of Rights" for children that includes the following:
1. The right to be born wanted.
2. The right to be born healthy.
3. The right to live in a healthy environment.
4. The right to satisfaction of basic needs.
5. The right to continuous loving care.
6. The right to acquire the intellectual and emotional skills necessary to achieve individual aspirations and to cope effectively in our society.
7. The right to acquire care and treatment through facilities that are appropriate to their needs and that keep them as close as possible to their normal social settings.
With the decreased effectiveness of the extended family and the increase in singleparent families, more parents are turning to their physicians and other health and mental health counselors for guidance in relation to these rights. In addition, the trend toward making the best possible medical care available to low-income minority families has heightened the need for pediatricians to be more sensitive to the unique constellation of factors that may interfere with the treatment process. To counsel these parents effectively, the counselor must have some knowledge of and feeling for the cultural issues relating to child rearing and parenting in that culture. The counselor must develop cultural sensitivity while avoiding cultural stereotyping.
Now that the significance of racial differences no longer carries many of its previous stereotypes and stigmas, we, as health practitioners, welcome new information that can facilitate the formidable task of treating the patient whose life-style and experiences are significantly different from those of the average health-care provider.
The following two articles address these important issues. As both authors caution, many of the findings are still in the exploratory stage, but their articles provide practical guidelines.