Rights of the child
This module introduces the basic rights of the child in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Students consider different examples of the state’s implementation, duties and responsibilities in relation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They bind theory and practice in their day-to-day life and discuss how policies should be child rights-based.
“Humanity owes the child the best it has to give” - Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924
Short description of the session
This module introduces the fundamental rights of the child, enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; the right of the child to be heard and his or her opinion to be taken into account. Students look at different examples, duties and responsibilities in relation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They connect theory with practice from their everyday life.
- Make the pupils acquainted with the main international document on children's rights - The Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Make the pupils learn about children's rights;
- Make the pupils understand how the rights of the child relate to everyday life;
- Make the pupils aware of and concerned about the neglect, exploitation or abuse of children.
Time: 1 - 3 hours depending on which of the proposed exercises will be done and how much time is spent on additional questions and discussion on the topic.
Requirements: Large room with enough space for group work; large sheets of paper, markers and paper, glue, sticky notes, printed articles of the Convention (Appendix 1).
Preparation: A lesson on the rights of the child. Information on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. History of the rights of the child – (Appendix 2).
Activity: Children’s rights
- The teacher organises pupils into small groups (3–5 participants) and introduces the task:
Each group must draw on a large paper poster an outline of a child. Younger students can just draw the contours of one of the children in their group. Finally, the children are given the following tasks:
- Each group should name this child and then decide on the mental, physical, spiritual, and character qualities they would like this child to have as an adult (e.g., good health, sense of humor, kindness) and write these inside the outline. Pupils may also put symbols on or around the child that represent these ideal qualities (e.g., books standing for education).
- Inside the outline the group lists the human and material resources the child needs in order to develop these qualities (e.g., if the child has to be healthy, he/she needs food and health care).
- Each group presents the child they have made to the large group and explains their choice. Why did they choose these qualities?
- Each group receives the printed articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The teacher asks the students to work again in small groups to discuss and identify the articles which guarantee the needs described in 2. After that each group writes the number of the article(s) next to the relevant item/need in the list. Any needs that are not covered by the document are circled.
- The groups again present the posters and the rights from the Convention they have chosen which correspond to the needs they have described.
In the plenary session there is a discussion of the articles that are common to most posters and the choice of the groups.
Additional questions for discussion:
- What are the basic needs of a child in order to be able to grow?
- How can we protect children and help them develop their potential?
- What were the most common needs that the groups wrote? Why?
- Were some needs listed only once or twice? Should they also be considered important for all children?
- Are there needs that have not been covered as articles of the convention? How can this be explained?
The teacher summarizes the students' answers and emphasizes on the fact that every child needs special care and protection before and after birth. The teacher also emphasizes that it is the duty of families, schools and governments to provide a suitable environment for children to grow up healthy and free.
Exercise 2 Posters: The tree with three branches
The teacher gives each group a copy of the cards with the articles of the Convention in Annex 1.
Each group has to divide the articles into 3 main groups - the 3 branches of one tree - see Annex 3.
- Ask the pupils to place each of the articles on one of the branches. All articles of the Convention should be allocated to the 3 main branches (clusters).
1 – First branch - Provision
It includes the child's right to life and the needs that are most essential to his or her existence, such as nutrition, shelter, an adequate standard of living and access to medical services, together with the rights to education, play, leisure, cultural activities, access to information and freedom of thought and religion.
2 – Second branch - Protection
These rights ensure the protection of children against all forms of violence, neglect and exploitation, including special care for refugee children; guarantees for children in the criminal justice system; protection of children in employment; protection and assistance to children who have been exploited or abused in any way.
3 – Third branch - Presence / Participation
It includes freedom of children to express their opinions, to have a say in matters affecting their own lives, to join associations and to gather peacefully.
As their abilities develop, children should have more and more opportunities to participate in the activities of their communities, thus preparing for a responsible adulthood.
The teacher explains each of the three areas.
- At the end each group has a poster with a tree and the articles of the Convention which are distributed to the three different branches - 1 - Provision, 2 - Protection, 3 - Presence / Participation.
Additional questions for discussion:
- Who is responsible for respecting children's rights?
- Is there an area of rights that is more important than the others?
- How do Presence / Participation rights happen in everyday life – at school or family?
Exercise 3 I’ve Got Rights and I’ve Got Responsibilities
The teacher tells the pupils to link "rights" to "responsibilities" using Annex 4
Please draw a line to link the rights with the corresponding responsibilities, and write one more right and a corresponding responsibility at the bottom of the columns.
Information for the teacher:
(For more information about history of children's rights, see Annex 2)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
On November 20, 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child - the first legally binding international convention that affirms the human rights of all children. From 1989 until today, all countries in the world have accepted it, except the United States, which has signed but not ratified it. The Convention contains 54 articles; Articles 1-42 refer to the rights and freedoms of children and young people. Each of these points represents a right of the child. The Convention recognizes children as equal people and at the same time as a specific separate part of society.
Structurally, the Convention is divided into 4 parts – a Preamble and 3 parts. The Preamble sets out the reasons for the creation of this instrument and the principles around which the UN countries are united.
Part I covers Articles 1 to 41 and is dedicated to the rights of children around the world, as Art. 1 specifies the definition of a child, Articles 2 to 5 and Art. 41 define the commitments for the implementation of the rights of the child of the states that have ratified the Convention, and the rest of the articles (from 6 to 40) specify the fundamental rights of the child.
Part II (Articles 42 to 45) regulates the procedures for monitoring of the implementation of the rights of the child in the countries.
Part III (Articles 46 to 54) contains clarifications on the ratification, accession and denunciation of the Convention, and on the amendments and the preservation of the original in the 6 languages (English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and French).
The articles about the principles of best protection of the best interests of the child (Article 3), non-discrimination (Article 2), participation (Article 12), and of survival and development (Article 6) are the most important ones.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child covers all aspects of the treatment of children and their rights, which can be analyzed with the approach of the three "Ps" - Provision, Protection, Participation.
This means that all rights can be grouped into three main groups, depending on what they require to be respected in order for the child to grow up healthy, to develop and to be happy.
Here are these three groups:
1 - Provision - Adults need to make sure that the basic things a child needs, such as education and health care, are met.
Children must be given rights, care and protection.
Provision of rights, care and services for children refers to the rights of children to an adequate standard of living (Article 27), nutrition and health care (Articles 6 and 24), their right to education (Articles 28 and 29), of family (Articles 5, 7, 9, 10, 21–22), one's own culture, religion, language, communication in the community (Article 30), of rest and relaxation (Article 31), but also of special care for working parents (Articles 18 and 20, additional care for children with various disabilities (Article 23), and of information (Article 17).
2 - Protection - We must all guarantee the protection of the child and protect him/her from violence, both by his peers and by adults, from exploitation and from neglect by adults.
Children must be protected in the event of a violation of their rights, and in particular against the inhumane treatment of adults. "The protection of children is the responsibility of the state (Article 24) which must guarantee them the right to physical integrity and to protection against exploitation, mistreatment, discrimination, illegal "export" abroad, etc. (Articles 2, 8, 19, 25, 26, 32-40; 11). Part II describes the principles of national and international protection of children and their rights.
3 -Participation - Adults should keep in mind that the child's abilities increase with age and the more he/she grows, the more responsibilities he/she can receive and the more he/she can participate in decision-making, both within his/her family and at school.
Children must be present and they must participate in discussions of issues that concern them, and in decision-making as well. "Presence" - the rights that allow full participation of the child in social life (Articles 12-17), also through access to information (Article 17).
The teacher can use the information given prepare a more detailed lesson, as well as to use the information from Appendix 2- history of children's rights;
Various cases of child rights violations that students know or have heard of can be discussed;
The relationship between rights and responsibilities can be explored.
- UNICEF, Guide to the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Website of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
How to use the museums
An exhibition of different posters on children's rights, made by students, can be planned and organized. Exhibitions can provide opportunities to discuss specific articles of the Convention.
Collages can be made from newspapers, magazines and other print media about a right from the Convention. They can show examples of problems remaining unsolved but also of the respect of the rights of child and proper care.