The Rights of Children

children rights

Each child has the right to life, health and education. These rights are essential for a child’s social and economic development and should not be violated. Children are also entitled to a safe environment in which they can grow, be protected from harm and develop their personalities, talents and interests.

Children are vulnerable because of their youth and they need special protection that is adapted to their age. This has been recognised since the end of World War 1 with the adoption of many international conventions on the rights of the child, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Every child has the right to food – enough nutritious food to live a healthy and active life. This right includes the right to adequate housing, sanitation and water. It is estimated that every five seconds, a child dies of hunger.

Children have the right to a good quality education, which prepares them for living and working as active citizens in society. Education should teach them about responsibility, respect for others’ autonomy (rights and freedoms) and cultural differences. It should help children develop their personalities, talents and interests, as well as learning to be independent.

Each child has the right to a family that instils a sense of belonging, love and security. They have the right to be treated with dignity and not to be discriminated against on any grounds, such as their ethnicity or origin, race, religion, culture or sexual orientation. Children should be allowed to express their ideas and opinions freely through any means available to them, provided that this does not harm others.

All children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are, which includes their name and nationality. They should not be taken away from their parents unless it is for their safety and well-being. Children who have been abused or neglected should not be stigmatised and they should be able to live with their parents unless this is harmful for them.

Governments should protect children from all forms of exploitation, which include being made to have sex for money or used for pornography. They should also prevent children being trafficked and ensure that those who abuse or neglect them are held accountable.

Every child has the right to a life free from all types of violence, including physical, psychological and emotional, as well as neglect, bullying and sexual abuse. To achieve this, everyone needs to be involved: governments, communities, schools, families, and the private sector. This can be achieved through simple steps such as after-school activities, parent education classes and mentoring programmes for young people. By teaching children about their rights, they can learn to value them and protect themselves from abuse. They will be less likely to believe that abuse is their fault and will report it when it happens. This will allow us to make a real difference for the most vulnerable children. Learn more about children’s rights from our National Children’s Commissioner and get involved to help make these rights a reality for all children, everywhere, every day.