MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Children’s Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov urged society on Tuesday to be as considerate as possible when discussing problems that Russian disabled children face.
A group of parents with disabled children wrote an open letter to Astakhov criticizing his speech during a TV show on January 24, in which he in fact blamed parents who “drink [alcohol], take drugs and have an asocial behavior” for their children’s congenital diseases.
The parents replied that although the behavior mentioned by Astakhov does affect children, congenital diseases often occur as a result of fetal or post-birth oxygen deficiency, medical errors, birth traumas, spontaneous natural mutations and a variety of other reasons.
“We are extremely concerned by the dissemination of distorted or incomplete information, especially by people who, because of the posts they hold, should have full understanding of the consequences that their words might entail. As a result, all parents of disabled children are seen as people with asocial behavior,” the letter reads.
Astakhov said in his Twitter microblog on Tuesday that “the whole society is yet to learn to treat disabled children with attention and compassion.”
“I call on everyone to adhere to ethics while speaking on this painful and sensitive issue,” the ombudsman wrote. “However, we should not tolerate those who deliberately deprive our children of a happy childhood, destroy their health and well-being.”
He also said that he “admires” parents who raise disabled children and that he was aware of how difficult it is to raise a disabled child in modern Russia.