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To What Extent Do Children Have Rights Young People Essay


In general, all around the world Children do not have the right to make major decisions in their life. Most of the decisions that affect the children are made by their parents or guardians such as teachers, social workers etc...So because of this lack of decision making, children are sometimes abused and exploited for the benefit of their guardians. And as a result, the child is both mentally and psychologically harmed. For this reason governmental and nongovernmental organizations and their expertise are trying to overcome this crucial society problem by making laws that protect the children from being harmed by their guardians and the society they are living in. Furthermore, these organizations make sure that children's get the basic necessities like, education, food, shelter etc… In a sufficient and proper way.

There are some international and local children rights that are drafted by international governmental and nongovernmental organization who work toward the benefits and safeties of the children. So we would be discussing who should be considered as a child and what laws exist to protect these children. Then, we'll briefly describe what Islam says about the rights of children and role of parenting. And finally, we are going to introduce some of the major local and international organizations working on this area and our group's practical part which we created awareness we about the children rights and the role of parenting through surveys and meeting with students .

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What are children rights?

As any human being children's have rights. And these rights are nothing but human rights with some special protection and care given to the young ones (children). These rights are the right to associate with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs such as shelter, water, food, education, criminal laws appropriate to their age and health care .Children rights are very large and respective to each society. However, most society agrees that we should allow children to be free from being mentally, emotionally and physically abused.

Who is a Child?

A child is a young person especially between infancy and youth (Merriam Webster , 2010). However, this is a very general and vague definition .The question may arise, how old should the person be to reach youth or in other word what is the range of infancy and who is youth. For these questions there is no specific answer because each and every country has their own ways of considering someone as an adult or not. I think it would be easy to define adult than a child. And this would help us understand the child which is just the opposite of being adult.

Adult is the age that someone can legally vote, marry or sometimes can buy alcohols, be charged with crime as the adult age. However, this can vary from country to country. For instance child labor in Syria, Bangladesh or Paraguay is minimum 12 whereas most other countries set 14 to 16 years old. And In USA the figure is completely different. A person to legally work should be minimum 18 years old and 15-17 can only work if they have permission from their guardians only.

Marriage is one of the major things that separate adults from children. A married person is usually considered as an adult. Because he/she is going to become a guardian of their children and they should be able to take care of their families. In many countries the age of marriage varies. For instance, in many African countries, such as Mali, Niger and Mozambique, over 50% of girls are married before they turn 18. In Yemen, 64% of girls are married before 18, and in Bangladesh, 81% of girls marry before 18. (Nour, 2006)

Another interesting issue that most people consider themselves as an adult is the age to vote and decide who should lead or being able to run for election. In most countries around the world the legal age to vote is 18 however in some countries like Australia and Germany the legal age to vote can be only 16.This shows that a 16 years old in Germany is considered as an adult while in Italy the minimum age to vote to elect a senator is 25 and in Liechtenstein, a person to vote should be 30 years old or above.

Also, in different religions scripture there are differences on who is a child or who should be considered as an adult. In Jews, a 13 years old kid is considered as an adult and is able to attended ceremonies and parties; On the other hand, Islam considers someone who is above 15 as an adult.

In short, there is no specific or exact age of considering someone a child. However, in each country they have some part of the society that are considered as a child .So with respect to each country there are some right given to the child prior to the age of adolescence.

Historical background of the rights of children's law

So far there is no specific point where we can say the history of children rights started, however for the past 50 years and so the rights of the children are becoming clearer and separated from the other general human rights.

Universal Declaration of Human rights is considered as the basis for all the international legal children rights. The 1923 declaration of rights of children drafted by Englantyne Jeeb and Dorothy Buxton in London, England in 1919 is appreciated by league of Nation and adopted by the united nation in 1946, and then considered as the Convention on the rights of the Child. [1] 

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The first legally binding international treaty that incorporates with civil, cultural, political, social and economical rights is the Convention on the rights of the Child monitored by the Committee on the rights of the child. It is human right treaty with 190 ratifications. Only the two countries which didn't sign for this treaty are Somalia and the United States. Somali didn't sign because of the internal problems it's currently facing and United Sates didn't sign because of some contradicting rules like children's rights to inheritance in same-sex marriages and particular rights for youth. [2] 

The CRC have four major principles. This principles are the principle of non discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, Considering the views of the child in decisions which affect them (according to their age and maturity). [3] 

Children's rights law is defined as the point where the law intersects with a child's life. That includes juvenile delinquency, due process for children involved in the criminal justice system, appropriate representation, and effective rehabilitative services; care and protection for children in state care; ensuring education for all children regardless of their origin, race, gender, disabilities, or abilities, and; health care and advocacy. (Ahearn, 2007)

Children rights can be categorized in to three major categories as Provision, Protection and Participation. [4] Or depending on the child right information network (CNN) we can categorize children rights in to two major categories as Economic, social and cultural rights and the second as Environmental, cultural and developmental rights (Freeman, 2000)

Provision is the right to live a standard living, get a proper health care, education and be able to enjoy a child life. This includes being able to have a playing place and recreation places. This helps the child to grow healthy, confident and happy in his life. They will learn how to treat people well, how to care for people and help their society in the future.

Protection: Children have the right to be protected from abuse, exploitation, discrimination and neglect. This includes offering the child a safe place to sleep, live and play.

The last category is Participation. A child should be offered a place in the society. They should be able to participate in community programs, youth voice activities and decision makings.

Role of Parenting.

A child and its soul is like a gift and untrimmed prized jewel entrusted into the parents care by God. Every parents is bestowed with the responsibility of nurturing and shaping that child into a successful, well-mannered, well educated and a beautiful human being. For us muslims, a parent should nurture his child in these similar way but also in the correct which would please Allah (SWT). It's a very difficult obligation but a sacred task in upbringing your children to be the right human beings who will express the oneness of Allah and be accepted by the society. In the coming paragraphs I'll be discussing the different types of parenting styles and which is the best amongst them.

The four types of parenting are as follows :

Authoritarian parenting

As the name suggests, this type of parenting is characterized by strictness, rules and direction. The parents have high expectation from the child to comply and conform with their rules. It's a punitive, rigid and stringent style of doing things and in which the child exhorted to the direction of his parents and to respect the efforts and work. The major issues with these styles is that rules tend to change when the parents feel like doing so. Hence, the child is left to wonder and to figure out what is expected from him since their happens to be no explanation for the logic and reason behind the rules. Along with that when the child does less than what he is expected, then it's more likely that parents would spank them rather than discussing the problem.

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Children who are raised in this style tend to live in constant fear and they exhibit less confidence. They become less competent on a social ground since they are always instructed and there was no room for choice and critical thinking. Some of the children might rebel against their parents and might go to the extent of leaving home at a very tender or early age. Partake in drugs and other social evils at a very young age and often they tend to be alienated from their parents during adulthood.

Permissive Parenting

This second style of parenting is whereby the parents is responsive but not demanding. Its complete opposite of the first type where its demanding but not responsive. Its mainly typified by warm loving relationship between the child and the parents. The major flaw which this styles is the low expectation, control of the child's behavior. The parents are lenient and are usually afraid to make demands on the child hence they no standards at the household or on the child's behavior.

These types of parents usually want their children to love them and would anything the child requests from them. Eventually, the child will become a spoiled sweet and would suffer problems such as, emotional regulations, impulsiveness, lack of focus and immaturity. They would often lack control of their feelings, and impulses and would also blame the other party whenever they get in trouble. Majority of the children raised in this style will remain dependent when they grow up and even in some part of their adulthood.

Dismissive Parenting.

These other type parenting is also termed as neglectful, uninvolved or detached parenting. Its mainly the worst type. The parents are neither responsive nor demanding. They are both low in having a warmth and loving relationship with the child and they don't demand and set limits or having any expectation whatsoever from the child. They are usually disengaged, never question about their friends, education and even their day.

The children who are nurtured in this style typically would develop the sense that they are unwanted or there are less important to other aspects of their parents lives. They will grow up feeling the resentment for their parents and majority of the times they will be at odds and alienated from them during their adulthood. Often, the children at adolescent age they would be disturbed, emotionally with drawn from social grounds and most likely will exhibit delinquency behaviors and at times they drop out of school.

Authoritative Parenting

This one last style of parenting is commonly considered as the ideal and best amongst four. Its complete opposite of the neglectful parenting where the parents are both responsive and demanding. The parents hold very high expectation from the child to comply with the rules and to show maturity. But also, the give logical explanation and reason behind rules with further allowing the children to express their feelings about their expectations.

It's a child centered-approach and the authoritative parents teach their children self-sufficiency, being independent and the age-apt behavior. The parents are usually warm and loving towards them and at the same time their existence of give and take policy. If the child make mistake, at times the parents will punish the children but also they give explanations and reasoning to the motive of the punishment. At times they will forgive them for their short comings also teaching them the correct behaviors. Standards are usually set, and expected them to be obeyed but at the same they will allow the children to be autonomous in one way or the other. So, in this case, children raised by authoritative parents tend to be more successful, hold a high self-esteem, articulate and well rounded adults who are respected by their fellow peers. This the correct way of nurturing your child but since we are muslims Islamic principals should always be taught to them.

Islamic teaching on role of parenting.

In our modern world, majority of the parents and families have completely taken a different style of upbringing their children which is unislamic. To be precise, they have bowed down to the external pressures of modernization and globalization which has taken a negative effect on the ways muslim families nurture their children. In this part there will be a slight discourse on Islamic teaching about parenting, equal treatment of the children and issues of inheritance. Then a separate in depth look into the Islamic ruling on adoption and abortion.

Its' important to remember that Allah (SWT) mentioned in the holy Quran "O Believers! Save Yourself and Your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones." [At-Tahreem, 66:6]. This verse truly shows the importance of nurturing the children in the correct way which please Allah (SWT). It also shows the central purpose for educating them is to be obedient to the creator of everything. As earlier mentioned, it's a sacred task bestowed to the parents to make certain that the children grow up to be good, righteous human beings who believe in the oneness of Allah. However, we must acknowledge that in our modern world, its increasingly becoming difficult to attain such a goal but it's not impossible.

The condition of having a right Islamic world is having true Islamic practices within the society and this usually begins within the families. The right Islamic parenting would be only effectual with the right Islamic marriage. Also one of the major things is the parent to believe that they raising a child who will be a successful vicegerent of Allah and who will help in restoring and expanding the Islamic legacy. Raising those children to be courageous muslims who are willing to struggle against any evil. It's also important to mention raising them and educating them should enable them to see everything from the angle of Islamic perspective.

Another essential aspect is to love their children unconditionally and treat amongst them equally. Its reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said "do justice amongst your sons" and he repeated it three times. [Muslim, Ahmad & Abu Daoud]. We can infer from this that its obligatory for the parents to treat all their children equally especially in matters of giving gifts. Furthermore, loving unconditionally should not make the parents not prevent them from doing what is right since the principal of Islam have priority over the desires of the child. Moreover, it's not permitted for the parents to deny their children of inheritance. Depriving any of his/her children their right to inheritance is a sinful act. Its only Allah (SWT) out of his justice, wisdom and knowledge who distributed the inheritance shares to the eligible persons. He has ordered mankind to remain within those limits established.

} ُيوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلادِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الأُنثَيَيْنِ فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَاء فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ وَإِن كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ وَلأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُما السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعًا فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا { سورة النساء الآية (11)

"Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise." [ An-nisaa 4:11].

Ruling on adoption

With the modern world increasingly indulging in the activity children who are orphaned or from poor states. Concerns such as " should the adopted child have a right or choice to know or meet his biological parents" are enormously and hotly debated. However, we need to understand the Islamic ruling on such a phenomena.

Taking a note that the practice of adopting a child was very deeply rooted in the pre-Islamic world. The prophet (SAW), an orphan himself once adopted his former slave and raised with care as one of his sons. He also mentioned that whoever cares for an orphan will be with him in paradise. After the prophet (SAW) freed Zaid ibn harith, he adopted him and named him Zaid Ibn Muhammad and then becoming the first freed slave to be a muslim. However, later a verse came down which abolished naming the adopted children to match their adoptive parents.

"…..Nor has He made your adopted sons your (biological) sons.  Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths.  But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way.  Call them by (the names of) their fathers; that is juster in the sight of Allah.  But if you know not their father's (names, call them) your brothers in faith, or your trustees.  But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein.  (What counts is) the intention of your hearts.  And Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful." [Quran 33: 4-5].

Under the Islamic law, the adoption is more considered like a foster relationship. And there are some rules with regards to such case. Firstly, the adopted child retaining his biological family name. Secondly, when the adopted child grows, he can marry from the members of the family which adopted him. Thirdly but not the last, the adopted child will inherit directly from his biological parents rather than the adopted ones.

Ruling on abortion

Abortion is one of the most controversial and sensitive dilemmas faced by the modern societies. A phenomena which is hotly debated around the globe and muslim societies due to the immense increase in its practice. A current major challenge facing the Islamic ummah and families is the teenage pregnancies, or engaging in an unlawful act which will result in pregnancy. Now, abortion is the process of expulsion of feotus from the womb of woman hence terminating the pregnancy. This is done by use of medical process of suction or some certain drugs prescribed by the medical practitioners.

Questions usually revolve around the lines of whether it's wrong to assign a right to the foetus? Or does the mother have an absolute right over her body? Does abortion really uphold the dignity of life? Or Whether it is justified in order to save the life of the mother? Or the fundamental question of whether the foetus would be regarded as a child? In the west, the battle is between the strict religious pro-life side and the more liberal pro-choice side.

It's essential to understand that Islam has dignified, honored and regards human life to be sacred. As well as it doesn't matter where it exists whether its extra or intra-uterine, its location has no importance to its sacredness. It's must be understood that the sanctity doesn't only apply to the human life but also to the human body and that's why the human body of dead individual is as sacred as it was when it was alive. "And verily we have honored the children of Adam." (Al-Isra, V.70)

Therefore the issue of abortion can be divided into parts, one is abortion prior to the entry of the soul into the foetus. The second one is abortion after entry of soul into the foetus. The entry of soul into the foetus takes one hundred twenty [120 days], and according the Islamic scholars mainly the jurists [ fuqaha] consider its unlawful to abort after the expiration of the period of 120 days and it will be considered as a murder. Some of the scholars have given exemption to the situation where the mother's life is in danger. As for the part where the period of 120 days doesn't elapse, it's still considered unlawful. However, if you abort the sin will be of a lesser degree and it will only become permissible if there is a genuine reason such as when the woman conceives after she is raped.

Practical Part.

Our practical part was mainly concerned on the aspects of identifying international organizations who deal with protecting and promoting the children rights. Also identifying a local organization , communicating with them and developing work relations. This two has been successful so far with the exception of developing work relations with the local organization due to some circumstances which will be discussed below. Furthermore, we conducted a survey of fifty students in our university about the rights of children and role of parenting. Lastly, we caused awareness by giving a lecture to some of students residing in the Qatar University Hostel.

International Organizations concerned with the rights of the children

There are many international organizations who are concerned with the rights of the children. Examples of organizations working for children are as follows:

Children international.

Starting with children international, it's a non-profit humanitarian organization which dedicated to better the lives of improvised children, their families and communities around the globe. They sponsor children by giving them tools and opportunities which will guarantee their success primarily in the areas of health and education.

Save the Children.

It's one of the leading organization in the united states and around the globe who are actively engaged in saving the lives of children especially when disaster strikes. They help with food, education, medical care and help communities to rebuild for long-term recuperation.

Global Children Organization.

It's a unique organization which help in nurturing children who are traumatized by intolerance, wars and conflicts around the globe through on-going programs and summer camps. It helps the affected children and their volunteers in taking active engagement in building a peaceful world.

United for Children ( UNICEF) - Conventions on the rights of child. (CRC).

They work for the overall protecting and guarding of the children all over the world. They help in advocating to protect the rights of children whilst helping them meet their basic need and expand on their opportunities to reach full potential which allow them to be successful.

One of the local organization which we indentified was Doha International Institute for family studies and development. Its an organization which deals in conducting scientific researches on the basis of natural family and also help in implementation the Doha declaration which is an international recognized declaration under the chapter of human rights declaration.

We send the organization several emails with high hopes of collecting necessary data and do an related to our subject in discussion but unfortunately we didn't get any response. Our second attempt which an aggressive manner of trying to locate them and do an interview with them failed to materialize since we didn't get the responsible official in the office and the interview required an approval from the director.

However, we opted this to another practical way of causing awareness amongst the students of Qatar University Hostel. We did a survey with question ranging from " what are the right of children? ", "who is a child?" to " Naming any organization working for children right" . Then we presented to them our findings on the topic and we held a discussion and even a debate on the topic of abortion with later clarifying the Islamic teaching on such a matter.

The survey findings were………..

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