Advocates Saving Our Children


By Tom Liotti

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai, 17, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, 60, from India, two extraordinary child advocates, is a timely counterweight to a world engulfed by war and pestilence. Each has a courageous story which has resonated throughout the world and has no doubt been heard by all except for the extremists whose answer to poverty is war and more killing.

Malala, still a high school student, says send books and pens, not weapons. In accepting the award she said that she is accepting it “for all those children who are voiceless.” Mr. Satyarthi founded the Save The Children Mission. UNICEF has reported that “approximately 28 million children, ages 6 to 14, are working in India.” His mission is to rescue the 168 million and more children worldwide who are orphaned, kidnapped, sold into slavery and other trafficking such as child pornography and prostitution.

While children here fall through the cracks each day due to poverty, domestic violence and nonexistent or dysfunctional families, we have our own child advocates. They work among the hardcore centers of homelessness and poverty where education and health care are denied. They are the law guardians and judges in our Family and Matrimonial Courts who struggle to restore hope and better lives to neglected and disadvantaged children.

I write here of Judges like John Pessala (dec.) of Westbury, retired as a Family Court Judge, who was himself adopted and who identified with the many children that came before him. And of Judge Merik Aaron, who chose law as a second career after spending more than 30 years devoted to teaching and as a member of the Carle Place School Board. And of Tomasina Mastroianni, also from Westbury, a wife, mother and Law Guardian attorney recently honored by the Nassau Bar Association’s Family Law Committee for her enduring work as a savior of children. Like Malala and Kailash, she is a noble advocate for children. So are our other law guardians and judges who work in these courts, fighting for our young while contributing to a change in a worldwide cultural paradigm.

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Thomas F. Liotti is an attorney in Garden City and Village Justice in Westbury. He is also an adjunct professor of litigation in the legal studies department at Nassau Community College.

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