07 November 2013

A child's right to be heard

Should children be able to participate in decision-making? I definitely think so. As fellow human beings, I believe their opinions should be listened to and taken into account. In fact, they have a right to participate in decision-making, provided for in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although, as this site, produced by Save the Children, in Wales, explains:  "This does not mean that children can now tell their parents what to do. The Convention encourages adults to listen to the opinions of children and involve them in decision-making."

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Article 12 of the Convention provides for the child's right to participate in decision-making.  This is summarised here by Eurochild:

"The right applies to decisions that affect individual children (such as decisions about their health and education) as well as groups of children (such as laws and policies). It requires adults to make sure that:
  • active steps are taken to encourage and support children to give their views;
  • children can express themselves in a way of their choosing, without worrying about the consequences of speaking up;
  • children are told how much influence is possible and what influence they have in fact had."

States which have signed the Convention, and then made it part of their law, must implement all the children's rights and protections given in the Convention. Nearly every country in the world has made the Convention part of their law. Only three have not: Somalia, South Sudan and the USA.

The theme of Eurochild's Annual Conference, which takes place in Italy next week, is about the child's right to participate. The background paper for the Conference is here. I am really looking forward to attending and learning about the different ways people have put this right into practice!