A child is a young person who has not yet reached the age of adulthood. Children have particular needs because they are still growing, a process that can be interrupted by many different factors such as illness, accidents, war or natural disasters. Children are also very vulnerable because they cannot protect themselves from these factors themselves, or even understand them. Because of these factors, they require special protection and a high standard of care.
Children rights are the rules that governments must follow to help children grow and thrive. These rules include ensuring that children are well looked after, have access to education, health care and good housing, as well as protecting them from physical and emotional abuse. They also include preventing child labour, child pornography and sexual abuse.
Some of these rights have very specific requirements, such as ensuring that children have safe places to play and that they get enough food to grow. Others have broader implications, such as the right to be treated fairly and with respect by adults. In addition, there are some rights that have no particular requirement other than that they should be protected.
Children’s rights are monitored by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Countries that sign up to this treaty must regularly report how they are protecting children. This is done through a process known as a cycle of review. The UN committee that oversees the process talks to all the countries involved in order to understand what is really happening for children. They then issue a set of concluding observations which detail progress made, main areas of concern and recommendations to the country.
The Convention sets out a framework of the rights that every child should have, and what governments must do to protect them. Its provisions are not absolute – for example, it is up to parents to educate their children and teach them about the world around them – but they are a guideline that all states should strive for. The most important aspect of the Convention is that it recognises that children are a group that requires special treatment because of their vulnerabilities.
The Convention states that each child has the right to life – the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter and education. It also includes the right to a healthy living environment, including clean air and water and sanitation facilities. Lastly, the Convention acknowledges the importance of family in children’s lives and requires that, where possible, children should be kept with their parents or in contact with their extended families. Children should also have an identity, with a name and nationality, and the right not to be separated from their parents except in accordance with a proper judicial procedure. It also provides that children have a right to freedom of expression and the right to participate in decisions that affect them, both within their family and in society as a whole, according to their level of maturity.