'20/20' Conference: Protecting Children's Rights to Healthy Lives

The weekend symposium will bring together medical professionals and students.

This weekend, the Geisel School of Medicine's chapter of Physicians for Human Rights and the Nathan Smith Society, an organization for undergraduates interested in the health professions, will seek "A 20/20 Vision for Our Children's Future." The eighth annual weekend conference at the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center will bring together a diverse group of medical providers, public health experts, and students to envision a healthier world for young people.

"Our understandings of how best to treat children, both from a social and from a medical standpoint, are constantly evolving," says one of the organizers, Stanley Rozentsvit '21.

"For example, new technologies and behavioral trends such as vaping have potentially negative implications on the health of today's youth. Conferences like this aim to address gaps in knowledge, misconceptions, and disagreements over how best to tackle challenges that are potentially threatening our children's livelihood."

The conference kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with a screening of Dawnland, an Emmy-nominated documentary co-produced by N. Bruce Duthu, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies, about the removal of Native American children from their tribal homes by Maine's child welfare workers. The film follows the work of a reconciliation commission to redress wrongs.

The symposium continues Saturday with a keynote address by Lola Adedokun, the director of the Child Well-being Program and the African Health Initiative at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Program.

Throughout the weekend, participants will address a wide range of topics: the echoes of adverse childhood events; the face of health care for youth around the world; the rights of displaced children; the impact of maternal health on children's health outcomes;  the rights of children with disabilities; the empowering effect of education; and the evolving relationship between children and technology.

Philip Landrigan, a professor of biology and the director of the Program in Global Public Health and the Common Good at Boston College, will talk about the rights of children to a healthy environment.

Presentations will be made by professors at Geisel, the Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth's Department of Education, Department of Economics, and Department of Anthropology, an elementary school teacher, and a community organizer. 

"By gathering speakers from legal, academic, and clinical backgrounds, we are making the point that our children's future is truly everyone's concern and solving challenges to their well-being takes cooperation from all angles," says Rozentsvit. 

The conference is cosponsored by the Special Programs and Events Committee; the Dean of the College; the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding; the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy; the Native American Studies Program; the Department of Anthropology; the Department of Pediatrics; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (ChAD); and the Center for Global Health Equity.

Events are free and open to the public; registration is required.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at [email protected].