Our rights are things that we can often take for granted or not think about. Especially when we feel safe, happy and free. They can be a difficult concepts to understand and explain.
But I think it is still important to talk to children about their rights – because it helps keep them safe. Talking openly about their rights and entitlements helps children understand their own personal safety boundaries and can encourage them to talk to you about any concerns that they might have, but might not be able to clearly say them out loud.
So, first of all, what are child rights?
Rights are things that every child should have or be able to do.
This poster lists all child rights as stated by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Every child in the world should be allowed these basic rights. Your child could put this poster on their bedroom wall and you could discuss what each of these rights mean to them.
Are there some things that children shouldn’t have the right to do?
Of course children can’t always have all the decision making power. In these cases we have to think about what is best for children in a situation, and what is critical to life and protection from harm. Caregivers may have ultimate capacity to protect children and support their development.
For example, your children may argue that it is within their rights never to go to school because they don’t want to! But we know that would not be in their best interests in the long term as their education and social development would suffer. So both their caregivers – and the government – have the right to declare that attending school is a requirement, as it is in their best interest.
As children grow they have more responsibility to make choices and exercise their own rights – but when they are very young their caregivers and the government have a duty to help uphold their rights.
How can we all help uphold children’s rights?
The theme for this year’s Children’s Week is ensuring children’s views and opinions are heard and respected. So what better place to start than listening to children. Whether your own children at home, in community groups or schools, why not create a space to listen to what would make a happier, safer environment for children?
For younger children, you could start with some simple questions like:
- Where are you the happiest?
- What places make you feel safe? What is it about those places that make you feel safe?
- When you are at school/the doctors/swimming class (you could name anything here) how do you feel? What are the best things about that place? If you could change one thing about that place what would it be? If something bad happened to you at that place, who would you tell?
For older children or teenagers, talk to them about what they understand their rights to be.
Does your child know they can also talk to us about any concerns they have? We are actively working to improve how we listen to children and get them involved in planning our services. This is all part of our commitment to being a child safe organisation – creating a trusted space where children can get the help and support they need and talk about any of their concerns.
We are also listening to feedback from our clients – and we would love to hear more from children about our services. So if your children have comments or feedback on our services, please let us know! We like stories, pictures – anything that helps us think about how we can improve our services. We promise to always listen!