Children’s Rights

A little more than 40 years ago, world leaders started a movement to officially recognize that children have the same human rights as adults. These rights include the right to live a life free of violence, exploitation, poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunity. They also include the right to receive education, health care and social services. Despite these rights, many children remain vulnerable around the world due to a variety of factors including conflict, disasters and economic hardship. Children need the support of all adults to live a fulfilling life.

Children need access to quality health care and nutritious food, clean water and electricity, safe housing, a good education, healthy relationships and the opportunity to enjoy cultural activities and creative work. They must be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect, including sexual and physical violence, trafficking, harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation and the impacts of climate change. They have the right to be involved in decisions that affect them and the right to a fair trial and legal representation.

They must have their opinions heard and acted upon in line with their age, gender and situation. They must be allowed to keep in contact with both parents unless this would harm them and be permitted to travel abroad with their parents if this is appropriate. Governments should ensure that all detained children are provided with a legal practitioner assigned to them at state expense and that they are kept separately from persons over the age of 18.

If a child has been hurt, mistreated or affected by war, they have the right to rehabilitation and reparation to regain their health, dignity and identity. They should have the right to a family reunification and the right to choose their own name. They have the right to be registered at birth and to acquire a nationality. They have the right to an education that is relevant to their age and level of ability. They should have the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative work. They should not be exposed to art that is designed to traumatize, provoke or disturb them.

They have the right to participate in public life as full citizens. They have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. They have the right to participate in political and civil activities, and the right to form a political party or trade union and to join associations for their education and recreation. They have the right to freedom of association and assembly, including the right to join a religious society or community and to change their religion or belief at any time. They have the right to a family life, including a loving relationship between their parents and the child and the right to marry and have a partner. They have the right to privacy, a private life and family home, and to privacy in their home. They have the right to a private and secure environment.