It is important that anyone providing services to children and young people understand and protect their rights. They should work with the child’s best interests in mind and set a good example for how children should be treated. As stated in criteria 1.1, children and young people have the same human rights as adults, and the right to special protection due to their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. The main international human rights treaty on children’s rights is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Australia ratified in 1990. This means that Australia and other countries worldwide have a duty to ensure that all children enjoy these rights. The convention sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children are entitled to.
The core principles in the CRC, as stated by the Australian Human Rights Commission, are:
- Respect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration
- The right to survival and development
- The right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them
- The right of all children to enjoy all the rights of the CRC without discrimination of any kind.
The Convention ensures that all children and young people, regardless of whether they have a disability or illness, are viewed as being entitled to the same human rights as adults with additional special protection. It also encourages children’s participation and allows their voices to be heard, so they have the right to form and express their own opinions when decisions are made that could affect their lives.
Sources: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/childrens-rights/about-childrens-rights and http://www.unicef.org.uk/UNICEFs-Work/UN-Convention/. Accessed on 18/10/2016.
The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child also states the rights that are specific to working with children in the early years. These rights apply to all children around the world. The early years are a very important time for a child as they are constantly learning and developing, so it is important that those who are working with children have their best interests at heart, are aware of their rights and make sure children are protected by them on a daily basis. They should also make sure children are aware of their own rights by incorporating them into curriculum and activities so that children can learn what is and isn’t acceptable and feel valued. This will help children and young people to have the best start in life.
Children’s rights in early years settings include:
- Children have right to live and should have a name
- Children should live with their parents or someone who cares for them
- Children should be listened to and be able to say what they think about things
- Children should be able to find out things
- Children should be able to worship as they wish
- Children should be able to meet together and have friends
- Children should be safe from harm. No child should be hurt by a grown-up or child
- Children in need of special care should get it
- Children should have clean water, food that is good for them, a clean place to live and good health care
- Children should be able to go to school
- Children should be allowed to play
- Children should not be allowed to do dangerous work
- Children should be protected from activities which stop them from growing up in a healthy happy way
- Everyone, children and adults, should know about children’s rights.
Modified from source: http://www.centreforglobaleducation.org/includes/documents/ChildrensRightsintheEarlyYearsSetting.pdf. Accessed on 19/10/2016.
It is the duty of anyone working with children to look out for them and prevent them from harm. It is also your duty to provide a safe and secure environment for children and young people to flourish in, and you should allow them to participate and have their voices and opinions heard. Therefore, if you notice any issues or anything that is wrong, you should report it immediately to child protection agencies to help protect the child from further harm.