Why Save The Children And Dictionary.com Are Redefining Common Childhood Words

“How do we keep peace? How do we keep kids from being in these kinds of situations?”

Dictonary.com is aiming to be more than just a website you head to when you're curious to know the meaning of a word or phrase. In partnership with Save the Children — an organization that promotes children's rights, provides relief, and helps support children in developing countries — the popular site is now working to raise awareness about the struggles faced and hardships endured by young people living in conflict zones.

As noted by Mashable, this new socially-minded initiative kicked off on Feb. 15 when Dictonary.com named SOS its Word of the Day. The letters, once meant to denote a ship in distress, now function as "an internationally recognized call for help." The phrase was also an apt one to use in order to raise awareness about the 357 million children currently living in conflict zones around the world, but the initiative takes things one step further. 

"One of the things we looked at with Dictionary is how do words like 'home' and 'family' and 'school' get redefined by kids who are caught in conflict," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, in an interview with Cheddar. "You can read those definitions. They're really heartbreaking." 

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The definitions Miles mentioned are, in fact, pretty devastating to read. "Playground" is redefined as "a place where we used to play, but can't anymore because of the bullets and bombs" while another says "home" is the "next tent where I live and feel scared all the time."

According to a new report from Save the Children, nearly one in six kids globally are experiencing childhoods that are redefined by words such as "starving," "maiming," "violence," and "war." The organization also notes that approximately half of these children live in the most dangerous areas of all to be a child, including Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, which are all areas affected by war and conflict.

Per the World Health Organization, situations of conflict have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, as they have been shown to exacerbate existing violence, such as sexual violence, and may also lead to new forms of violence against women. For example, in 2016 the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo verified 514 cases of conflict-related sexual violence. All but four victims were women and girls. 

Though statistics like these can be discouraging, Miles maintains there are things we can do to help. In addition to raising awareness about children living in conflict zones, Miles stressed the importance of peace. "For every dollar invested in peace-building programs, you're going to save $16 in the cost of war. Right now, that's a really important thing for people to understand in terms of how do governments support these kinds of programs," she explained. "How do we keep peace? How do we keep kids from being in these kinds of situations?"

For more information on how to help Save the Children, please click here.

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