Respecting the Rights of the Child

As adults we are capable or making decisions about our lives. We can decide what we share with other people. We can decide who takes photos of us and how they use them. We can make choices about what we would like to do with our time. We can decide whether or not we have a social media account and what we share on this. We are afforded privacy when we need to get changed, or are upset. We are allowed to voice our concerns if we feel our rights have been violated and we have been made to feel shamed or embarrassed or ridiculed.

We are asked to consider the rights of the children in our care and to protect these. This goes beyond the issue of child protection and looks at the fundamental rights of the child. These are identified by the United Nations and the purpose of this post is to encourage educators to reflect on how they respect and protect these rights.

unicef

Article 2 – The Convention applies to everyone whatever their race, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from: Is every child in your service afforded the same rights? Do children with different abilities or cultural backgrounds have support and respect to be included?

Article 12 – Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account: How do you allow children to make decisions in your service? Whether this be activities, routine, food and drink, relationships or celebrations, children have opinions and a right to make decisions from a very young age. This also should be considered when sharing children’s photos, information and development with others outside the service such as through social media or other internet based means that prevent the image from being shared again.

Article 13 – Children have the right to get and to share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or to others: How much information do you share with children and let them know what is going on and why? When children talk are they listened to, really listened to, or are they just acknowledged?

Article 16 – Children have the right to privacy: When changing children after accidents is their privacy considered? When sharing photographs and information about children on social media is their privacy considered? When children are emotional or engaging in discussions about their behaviour are they afforded privacy?

Article 17 – Children have the right to reliable information from the media. Mass media such as television, radio and newspapers should provide information that children can understand and should not promote materials that could harm children: Do you consider what children access on the internet and videos in your services? Do you take into account those children who have sensitivity to violence, loud noises or monsters when choosing options? Do you consider whether what you are accessing is educational and beneficial, not harmful? Does the use of technology support children’s development or minimising the connection of educators and children to build relationships and extend children’s knowledge?

Article 23 – Children who have any kind of disability should receive special care and support so that they can live a full and independent life: Do you practice early intervention and support children with additional needs to gain support as soon as possible to better their outcomes later in life?

Article 24 – Children have the right to good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that they will stay healthy: How well do you maintain your service and provisions you offer children? If they were your own children, in your own home would you increase the level of provisions? Do you raise concerns if you have any or just let it slide because it’s “not your problem” or you don’t want to rock the boat?

Article 28 – Children have the right to an education. Discipline in schools should respect children’s human dignity: How do you support children’s behaviour and development? Do you reflect on current best practice? Do children get shamed, removed from the group, isolated, yelled at or similar?

Article 29 – Education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full: Does every child have an opportunity to feel included, important and valued? Do educators challenge themselves to build relationships with those who sit outside the “norm” on the vast spectrum of personalities and temperaments?

Article 30 – Children have the right to learn and use the language and customs of their families: Are children supported to be themselves and understand their culture or are they made to conform to the culture of the service?

Article 31 – Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities: How much of your program is structured, teacher lead, outcome based experiences? Is play valued as a means of both educational benefits and relaxation for children who may otherwise be feeling anxious or overwhelmed?

Article 36 – Children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development: Are children pressured to complete tasks they do not feel comfortable in? Do children have to complete certain tasks regardless of their developmental abilities? Are children made to feel anxious, frustrated or isolated if they cannot complete a task?

Hopefully this has provided some opportunities to reflect on how you meet the rights of the child and don’t forget these examples are always great to put in policies to demonstrate HOW you comply, not just a blanket statement to say you do.

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