Before understanding the rights of a special child it is important to understand the rights of every child.
“The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. The child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society…in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity.”
-from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Every child has a right to their childhood – a hopeful existence free of exploitation, violence, neglect, and extreme poverty. Children need education, health services, consistent support systems as well as love, hope and encouragement; all these things and more are required in order to experience childhood to the fullest, and to eventually develop into healthy, capable adults.
Children cannot always be told what to do and what to think; they should be able to affect decisions that concern them.
However, millions of young people around the world are exploited in different ways. Children are forced to work in factories, in backrooms, on the street, and in the sex trade. They can be sold as slaves or even drafted to fight in wars. The violation of children’s rights is pervasive throughout many countries and fuels struggling economies, but exploitation of children is not restricted to the public sphere. Alarmingly, children are too often the recipients of violence in their own home, where a high percentage of abuse- sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological- takes place.
Why does this occur? Conditions of constant conflict or poverty inevitably propagate societal ills. Furthermore, children are easy targets for exploitation because they are dependent on adults and social institutions for their development, usually unaware of their rights, and unable to vote or voice their concerns formally.
There are people doing meaningful work to promote children’s rights. Human rights agencies and organizations, grassroots groups, media, educators, global leaders, and youth groups. Some of the most influential and effective child advocacy groups are featured in our resources and organizations sections.
But much more needs be done to enforce children’s rights everywhere. The UN must monitor and enforce their conventions with concerted efforts and people everywhere (you included) need to learn and care about these violations