Understanding Child Rights
Children rights are a very important subset of universal human rights and, as such, are an important focus for international human rights. According to the United Nations, “every child in the world has the right to live with freedom and liberty and enjoy physical and mental health along with development of the mind.” The right of children to seek happiness in their own homes is universally accepted. However, there are limits to this right. In fact, the ability of a child to decide what happens to him or her is called the “right to freedom of action” and, as the right of children to self determination in matters relating to their personal lives is also recognized by the United Nations, a child may be deprived of this right without the fault of his/her parents.
One of the most effective ways of ensuring respect for children human rights and their right to develop their full potential is through the implementation of a comprehensive peace education curriculum. A well developed and encyclopedic peace education curriculum should incorporate information on the fundamental aspects of child development, right living, child abuse and neglect and child adoption. Moreover, a comprehensive peace education should have sufficient provisions for child sexual abuse prevention. A comprehensive peace education should also incorporate a provision regarding the right to work, and a provision advocating for a gender-based perspective on laws that criminalize sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
The above discussions point to the importance of child behavioral assessment and the necessity for a holistic approach to child behavioral assessment. As pointed out by the OHCA, child behavioral assessment is a science that stands distinct from a “gut feeling” approach. While a child’s behavior may indicate something wrong, it may be based on incomplete understanding of a child’s context or on inaccurate or malresponsive knowledge from the parent or caretaker. Thus, it is not sufficient to rely upon child behavioral assessment to prevent or discipline child sexual abuse-a cornerstone of all effective human rights practices-and to protect and defend the child’s liberty rights.
Children are vulnerable when they are exposed to acts of violence, discrimination, maltreatment or neglect at any time during their developmental years. In a civilized society, every child has a basic human right to a life of dignity which includes protection from every form of physical harm and emotional and mental abuse. It is essential that children are able to understand, respect, and agree to these rights. In the majority world, this is not always possible as most children are deprived of direct contact with their parents and other adults.
Forging a concept of “child justice” is an important component of the development of child rights. A concept of child rights involves the recognition and promotion of a system of laws and justice that will protect children from physical, mental and sexual abuse by adults and by members of the society. The United Nation Conference on Human Rights has identified four key children rights – child custody, child adoption, child identity theft and child trafficking – as essential for a successful development of a child. Unfortunately, however, the trend in many countries is to disregard or diminish these fundamental principles of child rights. Lack of resources and low level of public awareness regarding child abuse and its prevention are some of the many reasons why this happens.
Child custody rights can be won through a specialized legal system dedicated to protecting children’s interests. There are also many organizations that provide advocacy and educational work aimed at preventing child abuse. Parents who wish to help their children can contact these organizations for information and help. This is because child abuse is a criminal offense that carries significant social and psychological repercussions for the victims and those who witness it. Ensuring that children enjoy a strong sense of security and safety from all sides – from abusive parents to hostile schools – is crucial for children’s well-being.