The Rights of Children

Children are people who deserve to be protected – and the world needs protection for them. Every child has a right to live in a safe place, with healthy food and clean water. They also have a right to learn, to express themselves and to be listened to.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) says that adults should make decisions with children’s best interests in mind, and take extra care to protect young children and those who are very young. This is because children are different from adults and need special help to develop and grow in a way that is good for them.

Governments should protect children from being hurt, abused or killed, and must not separate them from their parents unless it is in their best interest. They must respect children’s language, religion and culture. They must not send them to work where they might be exposed to dangerous or harmful substances, or where they might have a high chance of getting HIV/AIDS or other illnesses. They must also protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, such as being forced to have sex for money or making sexual pictures or films of them.

Every child has the right to be a part of their family, their community and their country. Governments should encourage families to give children the best possible education, health and food. They should support them when they are sick, disabled or need help to care for their children. Governments should protect children who do not have parents and help them to find someone who will look after them properly. This person is usually called a guardian. They must protect children from violence, abuse or neglect and treat them with love and respect.

Children have the right to get information from lots of sources, including the Internet, radio, TV, newspapers, books and schools. They should be allowed to share this with their friends, but only if they are safe and do not harm anyone else. They have the right to use computers and other technology, and to learn about science and mathematics. Governments should help children to access this information, and make sure that it is in a language they can understand.

The CRC says that all children have the same rights, no matter where they are in the world. This includes children who are displaced by conflict, refugees, and children with disabilities. The UN has made two Optional Protocols to the CRC which strengthen the rules against trafficking in children, and against people who are buying or selling them. The United Nations has an Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner, which investigates allegations of violations of these rights. It is hoped that the work of the Commissioner will lead to more changes being made to protect children’s rights.