The Convention on the Rights of Children

When you have children, the love you feel for them is unlike anything else you’ve felt before. It’s a selfless and unconditional love that will often put you in uncomfortable situations where you have to step outside of your own needs and prioritize those of someone else. In a way, being a parent is the ultimate test of your ability to love without conditions. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn about sacrifice and service and to develop a strong sense of empathy with others.

Children are often vulnerable because of their youth, lack of experience and inability to protect themselves. To address these issues, a series of international treaties have been created to establish rights specifically for children and protect them from the threats, exclusions and discrimination they face. One of the most famous is the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which has been ratified by 196 countries worldwide. The CRC sets out the basic human rights of every child and how those should be protected.

One of the most important rights outlined in the CRC is the right to participation, which requires that children be given the opportunity to have their voices heard and considered when decisions affect them. This should be done in a way that takes into account their age and evolving capacities, but should not give them complete freedom of action.

This includes the right to a standard of living that allows for physical, mental, moral and spiritual development. It includes access to education, health care and social security as well as the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. While children should be able to express their beliefs freely, this right must not be used against them and may only be limited when it is necessary for the protection of public order, health or morals, and for the prevention of disorder or crime.

Another of the CRC’s most fundamental principles is non-discrimination – that children should be treated the same as all other people. This should be respected in all settings, including schools and the family home. It should also be respected in a wider community, such as a workplace or neighbourhood, where the same rules apply to everyone.

A final of the CRC’s general principles is that children must be protected against all forms of exploitation and abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation, child labour and the use of children in pornographic images. The state should take all possible measures to prevent and punish these types of violations.

There are many ways in which children’s rights are violated on a daily basis. Millions of children around the world do not have access to the essentials of life – such as nutrition, clean water, sanitation and education. They are at risk of domestic violence, trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labour and armed conflict. They cannot always access medical treatment or even have their birth registered, which means they cannot prove their identity and therefore are unable to claim their rights.