children rights protection

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Human rights are broad principles that apply to everyone, whether they live within the boundaries of a certain region or the entire world. The rights outline moral requirements for people's conduct regardless of their location, language, nationality, or religion. Everyone should agree that human rights are significant because they advance equality, safeguard individual liberties, and prevent discrimination. Everyone has the right to exercise the human rights that are now in place, yet some social groupings call for special consideration and care. Children who are younger than the age at which adults are considered to be adults are a vulnerable group by nature and require special protections. Different sectors such as corporate, public, business or legal sector have the responsibility to acknowledge children’s rights through protection, educating the public, and implementing activities that favor the young ones.

What does ‘Human Rights for Children’ Mean?

The human rights for children are children’s rights accorded special care and protection to the young ones. According to CRC – The Convention on the Rights of the Child – a child is anyone below eighteen years of age. They are entitled the right to education, physical protection, and access to basic necessities as well as freedom from discrimination of any kind. Jones and Walker in Children’s Rights in Practice said that according to the law, children do not have the autonomy to make their own decisions (2011, p.52). Instead, the caregivers take control over the needs of the minors in the society. However, this condition limits the children from enjoying their rights fully since they have little control over their lives, making them more vulnerable members of the society. It is through such avenues that adults are able to exploit and abuse children because the child can either fail to recognize an abuse or fear to speak out to the necessary authorities. Therefore, many people, corporations, movements, groups, and organizations see the need to fight for the recognition of children rights such as the United Nation’s General Assembly which adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child– UNCRC in 1989 to protect children in conflict dominated areas (Waller and Davis 2014, p. 85).

Why Separate Children Rights?

Abuse or exploitation of an individual is considered bad, but it is often worst when the impact is directed to a child. Children are individuals who require equal treatment just like any other person in the society. Under the International Human Rights Law, children possess two types of human rights: those similar to the fundamental rights of adults, and the special ones that advocate for protection by the caregiver(s). The specific rights for children include access to education, protection from sexual exploitation, and the right to express their views and concerns.

According to Kuper (1997), increased participation of children in legislative matters that are related to the protection of child rights has led to a ‘new paradigm of childhood,’ that of viewing the young ones as human beings who have the capability to influence decisions that affect their ways of life. Children are more vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependency nature, young age, and inability to confront a person who is much older than them. A child is more emotional to negative experiences than an adult and the impact significantly affects them for the rest of their life. They rely on adults for guidance and nurturing as they grow to become independent individuals. The caregiver requires assistance from the society to meet the children’s needs and protect them against mistreatment.

The United Nations Organization classifies children rights into provision, protection, and participation. The UN fights for the provision of good living conditions, protection from abuse, and the right for any young person to participate in decision-making processes. Referring to ‘participation,’ children’s rights are not majorly considered during the law formation processes since they neither take part in voting nor have a physical representative – children lack a public voice (Waller and Davis 2014, p. 85). Therefore, there is a need to pay special attention to their rights.

According to the Implementation Manual of the Law nr.272/2004, “the child’s right is not to be ignored whenever adults take decisions on his part,” (Heimer and Palme 2016, p. 435). The law proposes an extensive consultation, as well as listening to children's needs in the proceedings of both administrative and judicial systems. The future of the society lies on the healthy well-being of the children in the current population. Young people are more vulnerable to poor nutrition, inadequate healthcare, and lack of safe and clean environment among other poor lifestyle conditions due to lack of proper care and protection from the adults. Such negative impacts threaten the future generation and the development of the societies they live.

Moreover, actions in different sectors of the world affect children more than other members of the society. For instance, making of policies in the education, health, corporate, and business sectors affect the children in the present time and the future of the society. According to Circular Model of Involving Children in Decision Making by Thomas (2007), self-confidence and participation in various activities during adulthood are extensively determined by the involvement of children in decision-making processes. Therefore, there is the need to actively engage the young people and encouraging them to make independent decisions.

Is Something Stopping the Rights?

According to Tereza Albenez, an advisor to UNICEF, “the most perverse form of denial of child rights is poverty, because poverty makes it impossible to satisfy those needs that are basic rights,” (Heimer and Palme, 2016). Poverty is one of the major factors that hinder successful protection of children rights. Historically, children have been exposed to the risk of exploitation, especially when they live in poor places. Those in developing countries get exposed to harsh conditions such as working to raise income to support their families, while others seek money to educate themselves. According to Emerson, Ponczek, and Souza (2017, p.265), child labor continues to be one of the greatest challenges in the corporate world affecting over 200 million children in the world. Emerson et al. say that child labor is a violation of human rights and goes against Article 32 of the Convention Rights of the Child of the International Labor Organization. Most of those in developing nations such as India work in the mining, leather, and agricultural sectors, and fail to complete their basic education.

Second, in countries where war is prevalent or rather there is a prolonged conflict, young children act as soldiers. They may forcefully or voluntary serve mainly due to discrimination or poverty. These boys and girls are used for various activities including sexual purposes, as porters, messengers, servants, and spies. Such children are denied their childhood rights and subjected to harshness. According to UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund (an international organization responsible in promoting and enhancing protection of children’s rights globally) – in thirty conflicts around the world, about 300,000 children work as soldiers (UNICEF 2014). The United Nations has been working towards creating public awareness, changing attitude, and setting norms that would lead towards decreasing child labor. For instance, the organization works in promoting education in insecure places with a few or no schools. The UN also takes the responsibility of educating companies and corporations on the need to address issues affecting children so as to create a positive impact in the society.

The United Nations General Assembly stated that “as part of child-rights due diligence, large business enterprises should be encouraged and, where appropriate, required to make public their efforts to address child-rights impacts” (Waller and Davis 2014). The organization aims at engaging all sectors in the economy to acknowledge children rights and work towards creating awareness on the importance of protecting the young ones from exploitation.

According to Waller and Davis (2014), one of the main problems in enforcing children rights is that the Conventions on the Rights of the Child are weak (85). The Humanitarian NGOs take long before acting on a problem affecting children in a certain area. The organizations’ reluctance on reporting the issues delays the enforcement process and leads to the lack of coordination among those working for the successful implementation of child right policies.

Another hindrance to the enactment of children rights is the existence of unreliable reporting systems. The reports do not contain detailed information that triggers action. For example, The Watch List on Children and Armed Conflict, a global network that advocates for the enactment of children rights, has been giving out reports on the situation of children in armed conflicts. However, the UN Security Council members report lack of enough information that leads to action. Such controversies show the lack of commitment, follow-up, and creation of plans to solve the existing issues (Waller and Davis 2014, p.88). There is, hence, the need for a proper review of the United Nations functioning systems and the handling of issues related to children.

What is the Way Forward?

Children deserve equal treatment just like any other person in the society. However, they require a special treatment due to their dependency nature. The CRC was the first internationally binding instrument to incorporate economic, political, social and civil rights with the aim of promoting and monitoring child rights. Since its formation, children have been able to enjoy their rights including those in the most vulnerable areas such as war zones and poor areas. Without keen concentration on the young ones, the future society is affected. Those who face exploitation cannot face the future with confidence. Human rights only protect the general well-being of an independent individual. Therefore, a child who requires protection from an adult, and a representative to fight for their freedom, would suffer if they only live under the general human rights.

There exist good international laws that fight for children’s freedom. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights forms a basis for legally acceptable standards in which countries should comply with on dealing with children’s issues. However, implementation has been the greatest challenge. Poverty, being one of the main hindrances to the implementation of children rights, needs acknowledgment and a different approach to tackling it (Osler and Atarkey 2010, p.74). The child protection authorities and social welfare associations should understand all the dimensions attached to child poverty. More research, surveys, and call-to-action reports should be prepared through the involvement of both the public and private sectors. Lawmakers and legislators need to collaborate with child protection professionals and development experts to establish policies that minimize child poverty.

The other underlying challenge, as mentioned above, is the child rights’ violation in armed conflict countries such as Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen which has been dominant despite efforts to decrease it by the international community and national government. There is no proper coordination between the local institutions and the international organizations, making it difficult for them to work together towards benefiting the children. Liberal theorists such as Jahn on ‘liberal institutionalism’ theory affirm that cooperation and collaborative actions coupled with rules and policies result in long-term solutions (Jahn 2013).

In this case, organizations such as UNICEF, together with the CRC and the Committee of the Rights of Child can work with the national governments and local groups to implement practical solutions to problems affecting the young ones. This theory only fails to recognize diversity in cultural, religious, and social issues. However, the combination of ideas from different sectors of social, political, economic, and religion leads to an identification of the basic problems of conflicts, war, and political differences, as well as the respective solutions.

Conclusion

Children rights are essential for the well-being of the entire society. Therefore, the steps taken by international organizations such as UNICEF to fight and create awareness on the need to protect the children are beneficial. All sectors in the society, including both public and private, need to work together with both the local and international groups to ensure successful implementation of policies and rules that govern violation of child rights. Children are a special group in the community whose proper care and protection would lead to growth and development.

References

Emerson, P.M., Ponczek, V. and Souza, A.P., 2017. Child labor and learning. Economic

Development and Cultural Change, 65(2), pp. 265-296.

Heimer, M. and Palme, J., 2016. Rethinking child policy post-UN Convention on the Rights of

the Child: Vulnerable children's welfare in Sweden. Journal of Social Policy, 45(3), pp. 435-452.

Jahn, B., 2013. Liberal internationalism: Theory, history, practice. Berlin: Springer.

Jones, P. and Walker, G. 2011. Children’s rights in practice. London: SAGE Publications ltd.

Kuper, J., 1997. International law concerning child civilians in armed conflict. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Osler, A. and Atarkey, H. 2010. Teachers and human rights education. London, UK: London Institute of

Education Press.

Palaiologou, I. (ed), 2012. Ethical practice in early childhood. London, UK: SAGE Publications ltd.

Thomas, N., 2007. Towards a theory of children's participation. The International Journal of

Children's Rights, 15(2), pp. 199-218.

Waller, T. and Davis, G. eds., 2014. An introduction to early childhood. London: Sage.

UNICEF, 2014. The state of the world’s children 2014 in numbers: Every child counts: Revealing disparities, advancing children’s rights. [Online] Available at: [Accessed Nov. 9, 2017].

March 10, 2023
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