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.
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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 .
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 in most of the time Islam considers someone who is above 15 as an adult.
In short, there is no specific 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.
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The first legally binding international body 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 the United States and Somalia. 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.
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).
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. 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.
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