LEADING ARTICLE: We do it all for the children, don't we?

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The Independent Online
WE wouldn't do it if it wasn't for the children, would we? The eating, the drinking, the office parties, the hangovers, the neighbours dropping in for drinks, the tree, the stockings, the increasingly expensive presents. According to our MORI poll (page 2) economic gloom is not going to stop us spending as much as ever on Christmas. But it's for the children, isn't it, and it's worth it just to see the smiles on all their faces as they unwrap the Power Rangers, Barbie dolls, Action Men, and computer games.

Well, not quite all. There's been a bit of credit card fatigue in one area: donations to charity, where less than a quarter of us intend giving to good causes this year. So if the faces of the six-year-olds who work in the mines of Colombia light up this year (page 9) it will be from the candles they carry through the narrow coal seams. They and an estimated 160 million children around the globe work punishing hours for pennies a day. The one in three children in Britain acknowledged by the Government to live in poverty are unlikely to find much to smile about either; nor the 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines, whose clients are largely Western tourists. Then there are the child soldiers, some 200,000, who may have been playing with real guns this year; and the child victims of wars in Bosnia, where thousands of children lost their homes and families, or Rwanda, where charities are trying to reunite 100,000 traumatised children with a parent or relative. Making children smile is one of the least self- destructive of our seasonal indulgences even if it gets more expensive every year. But, what the hell, spoil yourself. Send a cheque to Dept 5050521, Save the Children, 17 Grove Lane, London SE5 8RD, or a credit card donation by phone to 0345 224455 (local rate).