Children are regarded as precious gifts from God. It is rather curious and unfortunate that these same children are subjected to abuses and neglect. Universally, childhood is recognized as a period of sensitivity requiring special care, attention and protection (Awosola, 2008). Thus, children should know about their rights. However, the children awareness towards their rights is depending on the exposure that they got from the adult. It is the responsibility of the adult to educate the children regarding their rights. In Malaysia, the children are protected under the Child Act 2001 which covers the Juvenile Courts Act 1947, the Women and Young Girls Protection Act 1973, and the Child Protection Act 1991. It was enacted partially in order to fulfill Malaysia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Convention on the Rights of the Child). The Convention is divided into three parts containing 54 articles. It covers four broad areas of rights. The first is Survival Rights which include adequate living standards and access to medical services. Next is Development Rights that include education, access to information, play, leisure and cultural activities, freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Another area is Protection Rights which cover all forms of exploitation and cruelty, arbitrary separation from family and abuses of the criminal justice system. Last but not least, Participation Rights that include the freedom to express opinions and to have a say in matters affecting a young person’s life. This research is focusing on the right to participate among the pupil. Children’s participation is especially important in fighting their exploitation.
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The awareness towards the children right is important for the children for them to know the things that they deserve to get as children. According to the Convention on the Right of the Child, in participation right the child have three rights, which is right of expression, association and a child’s opinion. These rights can be seen in its practice at home, school and in general the society. This exploratory study was designed to find out the extent to which the primary school children were aware of their rights and practice the right to participate. Although this is a small-scale study with severe limitations with regard to generalization of the findings, it is nevertheless useful, as Melton and Limber (1992) have pointed out, for designing structures and procedures for implementation of children’s rights in a manner that is protective of children’s dignity (Ejieh, 2009).
Research Objectives and Questions
1.3.1 The objectives of this study are:
1) To investigate the level of the primary school pupils’ awareness of
2) To explore if child’s rights awareness among pupils are affected by their gender and age?
3) To determine how far the right to participate is exercised.
1.3.2 Research Questions.
This study is set to ask the following questions:
1) Do the pupils know about the existence of children right?
2) Does right to participate are exercise at home, school and society?
2) Does age group influence their level of awareness?
3) Which gender is more aware of their rights?
Scope of Study
1.4.1 Area of Research
The area of research will be the level of awareness on children rights and the exercise of the right to participate among the primary pupils in Smk.St. Mary Limbahau Papar.
Respondents of the research
The respondents for this study are the primary pupils at Smk St.Mary Limbahau Papar. Questionnaires will be distributed randomly to the pupils from different classes.
Duration of the research.
The duration for this study is about two semesters which is about a year. Proposal will be completed at the end of the first 6 months. The questionnaires and findings will be completed in the next 6 months.
Subject of the research
The subject of this study is on the level of awareness of children rights among the primary pupils in Smk.St.Mary Limbahau Papar
Significance of the study
From the research, the level of awareness of children rights among primary pupil can be determined. Apart from that, it also can determine which gender has high level of awareness. Towards the end of this research it will determine how far the right to participate in decision making is exercised. This study is also as a platform to suggest possible ways to increase awareness among the primary pupil.
Definition of Key Terms
According to the Children Act Of 2001, children is a person under the age of eighteen years; and in relation to criminal proceedings, means a person who has attained the age of criminal responsibility
Oxford defines right as a moral or legal claim to have or get or to behave in a particular way.
1.6.3 Children Right
According to Wikipedia, children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young, including their right to association with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes “abuse” is a matter of debate. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing.
1.6.4 Convention on the Right of the Child
According to Wikipedia, Convention on the Right of the Child is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of children.
LITERATURE REVIEW & CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
John Fitzgerald Kennedy states that children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future (Thinkexist.com: John Fitzgerald Kennedy quotes). The children have to be mould into a shape that would benefit our country in the future. Therefore, to avoid the children from being exploited by irresponsible parties, Children Right has to be promoted to the parties that are closely related to the children life, which are parents and schools. Article 42 of the Convention on the Right of the Child, requires States Parties to publicize its principles and provisions to children, young people, parents and care givers, and every one working with children and young people (Ejieh, 2009). Besides, the children also must be aware about their right. Oduolowu and Ogunyemi (2001) observes that: “There is no duty more important than ensuring that their (children’s) rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace”. This study is conducted to determine the level of awareness among the primary pupil and their practice of the right to participate. Article 12 of the Convention specifically states that children have a right to be heard in matters that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account according to their age and level of maturity. Elaborating on the implications of this article UNICEF India (n.d.) states that children and young people have the right to participate in family decisions, in school and class decisions, in faith communities and even in the UN, among other organizations and groups (Ejieh, 2009).
A research conducted by Felicity McArdle and Barbara Piscitelli covers the three variables, such as home or parents, schools or teachers and the society. In their research they visited four schools in the Brisbane region to talk with five to twelve year old children about their rights and to encourage them to depict their views of their rights. They found that parents’ involvement in awareness program is crucial. This is because many parents have a great deal to offer the program in their own life experiences. Always remind the children that, while it is commendable to protect their own rights, they must also consider the rights of others. Make sure they know that having rights also means having responsibilities (Pettman, 1984). Another finding that they got that involving to the teachers support to create awareness in the children. If children are not shown respect for their opinions, interests, and culture, they cannot learn positive ways of interacting with each other and those with whom they come in contact. Many incidents occur when young children need help in resolving conflicts, sharing, dealing with hurt, learning to cooperate and be part of a group. By encouraging a ‘Rights’ environment in the setting, and introducing a ‘Rights’ vocabulary, teachers can assist the children in developing a sense of community, and respect for others’ rights, as well as an awareness of their own rights.
Apart from that, it shows that participation in group games might assist in the understanding of rules and rights. Some rules are for safety, some for cooperation and courtesy, some for protection of people and their rights or property. Many people in our community feel threatened by the idea that children have rights (Piscitelli & Frey, 1997). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where it is clearly stated that “…the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and welI being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities in the community” and recognizes “… that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his of her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding (UNICEF, 1997). Participation rights are the most controversial of UNCROC rights, and have often been interpreted as applying only to older children. UNCROC stated that these rights should apply depending “â€¦on the age and maturity of the child” (Layland, 2009). Yet other researchers (Carr, 2001; Flekkøy & Kaufman, 1997; Smith, 2000, 2002) have suggested that younger children too are developing agency, and that their learning is enhanced if they are able to exercise it.
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By educating the young to participate can bring many benefits to the country in the future. In some countries it has been found that participation by young people not only contributes to building civil society and strengthening democracy but it also, in addition to other benefits, fosters learning and enables them to build life skills (Cook, Blanchet-Cohen, & Hart, 2004). Findings have shown that the training, care and exposure which a child is given at home and school during the formative years have lasting effects on their school achievement (Balli, 1997). This implies that home-school cooperation is very crucial for improved and better behaviour as well as achievement in children’s school subject.
Meanwhile the societies that are sometimes represented by the media are undoubtedly persuasive instruments in man’s struggle for self liberation and development. With respect to child rights issue, the media most especially television medium coverage has been used as weapon of awareness creation (Awosola, 2008). The denial of participation to children also diminishes the society in which they live, whereas the active participation by children has been shown to stimulate community development and change (Hart, 1992).
2.2 Conceptual Framework
Children right awareness and participation
2.2 Independent Variable
Education begins in the home and continues there through primary school, which is the ideal place for laying the foundation for in all round development type of education (Sarah, 2009). The parent plays important roles to instill the awareness of the child right as they are the closes to their children. The children may have a basis of awareness to the right if their parents are doing their responsibility to educate their children at early age even before the child are at the age of schooling. The practices of right to participate at home are the early steps to give awareness to the children.
School is referring to the teachers. They as accredited educators are also responsible to give awareness to the children about their right. This can be seen through an exercise of the right to participate in school activities.
It is also known as community. This refers to the scope other than at home and schools environment. As children are a part of the society, therefore the societies are responsible to provide awareness of the children right.
2.3 Dependent Variable
Awareness of the children towards their rights is dependent on the people closely related to them which are their parents, teachers and the society. The level of awareness can be seen in the practice of one of their rights, that is, right to participate.
For the purpose of this study, the research design will be distribution of questionnaires. The research demands for information from the pupil. Type of approach is supplemented by a questionnaire survey.
Unit of analysis
This study is to know about the level of awareness of Children Right among primary pupil, thus the unit of analysis will be primary pupil in SMK.ST.Mary Limbahau Papar.
The sample size for the study is 100 respondents.
SMK.st.Mary Limbahau Papar will be selected for detailed analysis on the level of awareness of Children Right among primary pupil. The type of sampling is convenient sampling which involve selection on the unit of analysis. In addition, there will be a predetermined quota for male and female.
Measurement or Instrumentation
The questionnaire will be structured into 3 sections.
Basically, there are two method used for the collection. Those are primary data collection and secondary data collection. Primary data is a data which collected originally by the researcher based on his effort. Example, the data for this study will be collected through questionnaire to the focus group. This method was chosen because the designed questionnaire could be sent personally to them in a limited time and they have to return it back on that time. While, secondary data is the information which is already in existence that related to the study. It includes the data from the journal, book, and internet search. For this study, both of the data collection method is being used so that it will be help in term of an understanding and the accuracy of information that will be received.
The data analysis for this study conducted through ‘Statistical Package for Social Science’ software or SPSS version 17.0 which use the descriptive analysis and also crosstab. SPSS will be used as medium to analyze the data where the raw will be entered in the computer as a data file. By using the tools, any missing value can easily be identified. The tool will help in analyzing data such as table, figure also percentage.
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