A Child’s Take On Child Rights

Child rights are still overlooked by the majority of people (adults). This article (written by me – a thirteen year old) is going to talk about child rights and how we can help stop the abuse and exploitation of children.

When people see those advertisements on Television, such as Child Line or UNICEF, and they see those videos and images of poor and abused children they feel sympathy and pity for the child and feel they want to help. It’s natural human empathy. But when they are actually asked to help; for example to donate a bit of money or to spread the word, they don’t. While some people may have misgivings about charity – perhaps they feel it’s not helping or that such and such a charity is not open and honest with their agendas or finances – the majority of people don’t even venture in to that much detail; they pass the responsibility on to somebody else. The voice in their head says that millions of other people would have seen the ad and they will be the ones to do something. Of course some people do help, they give money, they research the issues and the best way to support them, but for everybody else there are excuses.

Children in Africa do not have simple necessities such as food and drink, a toilet or education. The majority of people born in to the Western power countries like the UK or the US take these things for granted. They’re available to use from birth and we do not give them a second thought. Not that we should look back to the post World War eras as some kind of golden age, that hardship should be strived for out of guilt, but Children these days (me and my peers included) are spoilt – you may think it’s a harsh word to use but it’s the reality. Children in the West complain that they wanted their iPhone in white not black, when every 3 seconds a child dies from hunger, illness or something related, and the hands of a child laborer at some point probably played a role in the production of said iPhone. The children that made your iPhone will never live in a reality where they could use one themselves.

UNICEF – A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 28: “A child’s right to an education”
Poor children all over the world wish and dream for education whereas rich children complain about theirs and fake sickness’s and make excuses not to even go to school. While we should always strive to improve our own education, because it’s education that makes us aware of the wider world, next time you fake that you are sick or mess about in class, think about the children who can’t learn. Your education might not always be stimulating, but at least you have it!

Article 24: “State obligations to provide child health care services”
In rich countries when we have symptoms of sickness we go to the doctor, we receive a prescription for medicine, take the medicine and all things correct we are fine. In poorer places of the world a child dies every 3 seconds from an illness; many easily preventable with the proper funding and infrastructure. Diseases are very common in Africa, not least because of the dirty water they are forced to drink. This untreated water is filled with dangerous microbes, animal dung and other nasties, but when you are literally dying of thirst prolonging the agony by drinking it is simply survival. When children get sick and die in Africa it’s so common people don’t even mourn. So next time you drink a clean glass of water fresh from the tap – or worse let it run down the sink – spare a thought for those that can’t even take a drink without getting sick.

Article 31: “The child’s right to rest, leisure and recreational activities”
Some children play X-Box every day, others have to walk miles in sweltering heat for water that isn’t even clean. Children like this barely get time to rest, and when they do decide it might be fun to play chase it is with the little valuable energy they have left. The next time you sleep all day or stay up all night playing video games, spare a thought for those whose closest thing to a joystick is an actual stick.

Article 9: “The child’s right not be separated from his or her parents against the child’s will”
A year ago in the news there was a man named Joseph Kony, he abducted children while they slept and forced them to be in his army otherwise he would kill their parents, which he did sometimes anyway. While many do not agree with the forceful PR campaign Kony 2012 or the concept of Western military intervention, this man really did exist and really did those things. So next time you shout at, or verbally or physically abuse you’re parents over trivial matters, think about the children who will never see their parents again.

Article 11: “Measures against the illicit transfer of children abroad”
Children all over the world – mostly girls – are kidnapped, beaten and raped every day and are forced to work against their will, all because gangs want money. Selfish men make girls as young as 7 work as prostitutes or they will kill them. They are transferred abroad, beaten, drugged and are forced to meet strange men and abusers – just because some will do anything to obtain their share of wealth. So next time you complain to your parents about where you go on holiday, think about the girls who are forced to go anywhere and everywhere, not for a holiday but for the worst time of their lives.

Article 19: “State obligations to protect children against maltreatment and abuse”
Children as young as a few days old get beaten, burned, abused in every way – even killed, simply for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. This happens everywhere, the West included. When you hear a child crying or see them getting smacked you probably think to yourself “oh that child must have been naughty,” but everyday that line is crossed in to abuse. The only time an adult should use reasonable force on a child to restrain them is if they will cause harm to themselves, public or private property, or someone else. Being naughty is not always an excuse. Does a young child even understand the concept? Do they know what they’ve done wrong to warrant shouting and violence on a daily basis? Or was being born their crime?

Don’t ignore children in need. Children are human too and are the most vulnerable in our world. Some have a long life ahead of them, other’s unfortunately don’t. But for those that do, a life of misery and survival is not in any way fair. If you are an adult then don’t be selfish! You have lived your life to the fullest; why shouldn’t they?

Every child deserves these rights!

And if you are a child remember NOT to use these rights against your parents. If you are living a clean, healthy and fair lifestyle, you also have responsibilities. “A child has the right to a bed, but also has the responsibility to make it”.

And remember if you are being abused at home or at school or anywhere else for that matter, inform the police, Child Line or a person you trust to help you. Be Brave and tell someone, because you have rights too!

by 13 year old Michael Jurj

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