“Rights” are things every child should have or be able to do. All children have the same rights. These rights are listed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child started twenty years ago. Almost every country has agreed to these rights. All the rights are connected to each other, and all are equally important. Sometimes, we have to think about rights in terms of what the best is for children in a situation, and what is critical to life and the protection from harm. Millions of children in the world are victims of mistreatment, abuse and violence each year. They are abducted from their homes and schools and recruited into the army. They are trafficked into prostitution rings. The consequences can be devastating. Violence and abuse can kill. Often the children result in poor physical and mental health. They are also denied an education, or lead to homelessness or a sense of hopelessness. Some worst cases the children are forced into begging. Most of the time, children are helpless and are not able to defend themselves against any form of danger.
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Children need love and protection from the moment they are born. They are not able to defend themselves and are also helpless little individuals who will not be able to look after themselves. They do not have the required capability to care for themselves. They need love and protection from adults for various reasons. The reasons are their psychological, spiritual and physical wellbeing; happiness and joy; safety and security; stability; inner strength, confidence and high self-esteem; a life free of fear and worries and lastly securing a bright future (Benjamim). A child who is not loved and cared for will feel neglected. They will feel that they are unworthy of love and will grow up to be disturbed adults. They will lack confidence, insecurity and therefore will not be able to perform to their potential. As they are not able to express their true feelings, they will hide in a corner or behave aggressively to show their anger. Love will give the strength and also peace of mind they need as they grow. Children’s basic needs must be met. They must know that there is an adult they can approach when they need help and support. They must feel that there is someone who will always be there for them and to love them completely. Even when children are being disciplined, they should know that it is out of love and that they are being protected from being hurt. Children who feel loved and protected will be happy and motivated about themselves. They will be able to achieve to their potential, trust and interact with the people around them. These children will grow into wise, strong, self-confident, respectful, reliable adults and conduct a healthy lifestyle. They will make sensible choices and lead a normal life. They will be able to build positive relationships and therefore create strong family bonds. They will pass the love and protection they received when they were young to their children. These are the reasons why children need the protection of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child was set up in 1945 by 51 countries. Today there are 192 member states. It was set up with several aims to benefit young children. The aims of the Convention are to set standards for the defense of young children against neglects and abuses that they face in countries all over the world every day. It is cautious in allowing for the different cultural, political and material realities among all the different countries. The most impotent factor to consider is for the best interest of the child. The Convention constitutes an assembling point and a useful tool for civil society and individual children, working for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. The rights set out in the Convention can be generally grouped in three sections. The first section is Provision, which means that every child has the right to possess, receive or have access to certain things or services. For example, they are entitled to a name, a nationality, health care, education, play, and care for disabled children and also the orphans. The second section is Protection. This means that the child has the right to be protected from harmful acts and practices. For example, when they are separated from their parents, being used for commercial or sexual exploitation and when they are physically and mentally abused. The third section is Participation. The child has a right to be heard on decisions affecting their life. As their abilities progress and as a preparation for adult life, the child needs to have increasing opportunities in taking part in the social activities. For example, they should have freedom of speech and opinion. They should be allowed to choose their culture, religion and language (Hrea). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child also aims at protecting children from discrimination, neglect and abuse. It provides for the implementation of rights for children both during times of peace and war times. There are four general principles being conserved in the Convention. The principles also known as the key provisions focuses on Non-discrimination; Best interests of the child; Right to life, survival and development. They express philosophies the Convention is conveying and provides guidance for national programmes of implementation.
According to Krappmann (2009), it is important that many professionals who are working with young children must know the rights of a child. However, most often they do not know much what these rights for the child means. Now the rights of a child are spreading across the world and to other different professional people like judges, teachers, policemen, law-enforcement officers, medical staffs and social workers. Parents are also educated about the provisions of the Convention. Even children themselves know what their rights are. However, this knowledge has not ended the sufferings and difficulties faces by children but it is considered an appreciable start. More schools are starting to inform children about their rights and give them a chance to speak up in matters that concerns them. Then again as mentioned earlier it is not happening everywhere. On the other hand, awareness about who children are and what are their rights are being spread across the globe. There concrete changes taking place in the world. For instance, many laws have been coordinated with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to set the law for Juveniles. Child rights have been included in new articles of constitutions and child codes. In most countries violating the rights of a child like punishing the child harshly or sexually abusing the child have been dealt with very severely. Juveniles’ and adults’ justice are being separated into individual systems in many countries. These progresses are not only the efforts of the supervising committee but many United Nation agencies and organisations have been contributing towards the process of making child rights a success. Governments are involved, not only in the implementation of child rights in their own country but also cooperating with other State Parties which needs resources.
There were case studies from Africa, where reports state that early child development was available in Africa. However, it was limited and was only available to very few people in Africa. Due to this problem, Europe set out a mission to change Africa. It identifies that religion and education will be the most promising means to save the continent and its people from their sufferings. They started the Euro-Western early child development programme in Africa. There are evidences that the Euro-Western early child development programmes are beginning to take shape in Africa (Pence and Nsamenang, 2008). This is one example that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has made a difference to the lives of the children. Another example is that in July 2010, the Republic of Congo announced that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed new measures to increase child protection and this is a major development for the Central African nation. Marianne Flach, UNICEF Representative in Congo said “This framework will better monitor the violation of children’s rights, abuses and help to improve the situation to build a protective environment for children.” UNICEF also noted that Africa’s legislation must be updated and coordinated with the new measures that were recently implemented. These national efforts will need more support.
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The world has changed over the past 20 years and the challenges children face is different from those times to the present situation. Early childhood had changed and will continue to do so with the influence of technology and economic developments. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has made a difference to the lives of the children. However, the Convention still could help to strengthen children’s role in decision-making processes and demand that they are given a voice in reviews of their placements.
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