When a child comes into this world, he does not know what to expect. Will she have a fulfilling life where her parents keep her safe, she has enough to eat, she gets a good education, and she's safe from exploitation? Or, will she have the misfortune of being born into a family where she's deprived of even these basic rights?
Children are a priority and the most important part of parents' lives. As parents, we go to great lengths to ensure our children's well-being and meet their needs. However, there is something that most of us fail to do. Can you guess what it could be?
Well, it is making our children aware of their rights. But, why do to we fail to do that? The answer, unfortunately, lies in the fact that most of us aren't aware of the rights that our children have.
The United Nations adopted a Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, which includes a list of rights that protect children and ensure their welfare. It came into force on 2 September 1990. All member states are expected to ensure that children are granted these rights and, thus, enjoy a safe childhood.
Here are nine important rights from the Convention that you must be aware of, as a parent, and educate your child on them as well:
Article 24 - Right to health care: Every child should be provided with quality health care, clean water, healthy food and a safe environment. Additionally, a child should have easy access to information on how to stay healthy. Over and above these, article 23 states that a disabled child should be provided with special care and support, as per her requirements.
Article 28 - Right to education: Every child should have access to free primary education. Additionally, school discipline should be administered keeping in mind the child's dignity. It is the responsibility of governments to review schools' discipline policies, take measures to encourage regular attendance, and attempt to reduce drop-out rates.
Article 29 - Right to education for overall development: Education should help in the development of a child's personality, inculcate in him a respect for human rights and national values, and foster a feeling of peace and understanding.
Article 31 - Right to rest, leisure and play: A child has the right to rest, relax and engage in recreational activities. Also, appropriate and equal opportunities should be given to every child to participate in cultural, artistic and recreational activities. This article has been included with the realisation that play is a very important part of a child's development.
Article 32 - Right to protection from economic exploitation: A child should be protected from performing work that is hazardous or exploitative. No work that children engage in should infringe on any of their rights, including their right to education, and leisure and play. However, there is no law which says that parents cannot ask their child to help out at home, provided what the child has been asked to do is an age-appropriate task.
Article 33 - Right to protection from drugs: All possible measures should be put in place to protect a child from using illicit drugs and narcotic substances. Measures should also be taken to prevent the use of a child in the production and trafficking of such illegal substances.
Article 34 - Right to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: The member states should ensure that children are protected from all kinds of sexual abuse and exploitation. The measures also include ensuring that a child isn't forced into sexual activities, prostitution and exploitation through pornography.
Article 37 - Right to protection from torture, or inhuman and harsh punishment: No child should be tortured or treated in an inhumane manner. Juvenile offenders should not be awarded capital punishment or life imprisonment. A child's liberty shall be paramount; even while being held in legal custody, a child should be allowed to meet parents or legal guardians. Also, a child has the right to prompt access to legal help.
Article 39 - Right to rehabilitation: A child who is a victim of torture, neglect or abuse should be provided with all possible help for recovery and rehabilitation. Such recovery should take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-esteem and dignity of the child.
While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has spelt out the rights every child should enjoy, it is up to us to ensure these are implemented. Not only would this help children enjoy their childhood but also make the world a better and safer place.