Children’s Rights

children rights

Millions of children around the world live in poverty, endure abuse and neglect, or have their health, education and futures disrupted by war, natural disaster, displacement and lack of basic services. Often, they are the victims of their own family members and other adults they know. These are the children who need our help. We work to ensure that every child gets the opportunity to learn, be healthy and thrive as they grow.

Every child has a right to an education, a safe home, food, water, medical care and the chance to play and enjoy cultural activities. Children also need protection from harmful work, drug exploitation, sexual abuse, trafficking in humans, corporal punishment, and emotional and mental abuse. Governments must respect these rights and provide children with a level of protection appropriate to their age and degree of maturity. They must fight to end practices and customs that lead to mistreatment of children.

Parents are responsible for bringing up their children but where this is not possible, they should consider what is best for the child and seek help from governments. Those who look after children should always respect their religion, culture and language. Every child has the right to freedom of thought and expression, including the right to express themselves freely in writing, painting, drawing or any other way, as long as this does not harm others. Children also have the right to privacy – their families, homes and personal communications should be kept private unless they are being investigated or are victims of abuse.

When a child dies, the person who has parental responsibility for that child has the right to bury or cremate that body according to his or her own beliefs. Governments must ensure that this right is respected, even when the family are poor or not able to pay for funeral costs.

Children have the right to a name and nationality and should be registered as soon as possible after birth. They should have the right to stay with their parents, except where this is not in their best interests and governments must protect against child abduction and trafficking.

A child’s health, nutrition, education, income and employment are all crucial for their well-being and for the development of the society in which they live. Governments must ensure that children can learn in a safe environment, have adequate nutrition and access to healthcare and education and be able to work and contribute to their communities.

Educating children about their rights is essential for their protection but this seldom happens. Ignorance of children’s rights puts them at greater risk from abuse, violence and exploitation. That’s why Amnesty International and Angelina Jolie have co-written a book for teenagers: Know Your Rights, Claim Them. They have also worked with experts to create a free online children’s rights education course for schools. We are also working with partners to provide supplies and help on the ground for children who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, natural disaster, economic collapse, climate change and other threats to their safety and well-being.