Understanding Child Rights
Who is a “CHILD”?
According to international law, a ‘child’ means every human being below the age of 18 years.
- All persons below the age of 18 are children.
- Childhood is a process through which every human being passes.
- Children have different experiences during childhood.
- All children need to be protected from abuse and exploitation.
Why do children need special attention?
- Children are more vulnerable than adults to the conditions under which they live.
- Hence, they are more affected than any other age group by the actions and inaction of governments and society.
- In most societies, including ours, views persist that children are their parents’ property, or are adults in the making, or are not yet ready to contribute to society.
- Children are not seen as people who have a mind of their own, a view to express, the capacity to make a choice and an ability to decide.
- Instead of being guided by adults, their life is decided by adults.
- Children have no votes or political influence and little economic power. Too often, their voices are not heard.
- Children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Common Child Rights are:
Right to Survival includes
- Right to life.
- The highest attainable standard of health.
- Adequate standard of living.
- A name and a nationality.
Right to Development includes
- Right to education.
- Support for early childhood care and development.
- Social security.
- Right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.
Right to Protection includes freedom from all forms of
- Inhuman or degrading treatment.
- Special protection in special circumstances such as situations of emergency and armed conflicts, in case of disability etc.
Right to Participation includes
- Respect for the views of the child.
- Freedom of expression.
- Access to appropriate information.
- Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Most common child abuse involves physical, sexual as well as emotional abuse.
Children have the right to be protected from all exploitative and vulnerable situations that have been discussed. But that is possible only if you make yourself aware of the real problems and risks that children face and of the remedies that are available in law and policy to change the situation in the best interest of children.
A child may need legal help and protection. Resisting legal action when a child needs it the most is a common mistake all of us often tend to make.