Children have a lot to teach us about life, they make the world a brighter place. They’re selfless, loving and incredibly innocent. But they also demand a lot from us, they force us to step outside of ourselves and prioritize our needs for someone else’s. Being a parent is hard, but it’s an amazing privilege and experience that should be cherished.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) spells out all the rights that every child, everywhere is entitled to. There are 54 articles that spell out what is best for children, and governments must work to uphold all of them.
It says that in everything governments do, the “best interests of the child” must be considered. It outlines how governments should try to keep families together and ensure that children’s rights are met, whether they’re refugees, those with disabilities, or Indigenous children. It’s the most ratified of all human rights treaties, and it’s the most widely accepted as being internationally lawful.
The CRC states that all children have a right to life, and that means they’re entitled to good health care, nutritious food, clean water, electricity, safe housing, and an education. They’re also entitled to freedom from abuse, including physical and emotional abuse, and they can seek justice for any harm that occurs to them. Children should not be separated from their parents unless it’s in their best interests, or they are suffering from severe neglect or domestic violence. Those who violate children’s rights should be punished to the full extent of the law.
Children have a right to express their opinions, and they should be listened to. Governments should allow children to take part in cultural activities and create art, even if it’s controversial or offensive, and they shouldn’t limit this right just because of their age.
They should be free from exploitation, including labour exploitation, harmful work, drug and alcohol abuse, human trafficking, violence, and war. They’re also entitled to access medical and psychological help if they are abused, and they can call for justice by reporting anyone who abuses them to the authorities.
All children have the right to protest, and they’re using that right all over the world. They’re calling for climate justice, racial equality, and more, and they’re bringing their unique perspective to the table. Their voices should never be ignored, and we can help by raising awareness of children’s rights. You can learn more about children’s rights by taking our free introductory course, which is available until 2 September.