Answers to your children's rights questions
On this page we’ll give you the answers to some commonly asked questions about children’s human rights. If you have other questions that you’d like to see on this site, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are children's rights?
Children's rights are a set of things that all children and young people should have, no matter how old they are or where they come from. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international treaty (agreement) that gives children and young people over 40 major human rights. It has been signed by all the Member States (countries) of the UN except the US and Somalia.
Some rights in the Convention have been written especially for children that need extra protection from bad treatment or discrimination, including disabled children, children living away from home, young refugees, and children in trouble with the law.
Why do children have human rights?
Children have human rights because they are human. They have their own treaty to make sure they can have a really good childhood.
Why should children have rights when they don’t have responsibilities?
Human rights don’t depend on how someone behaves or how many responsibilities they have – they belong to everyone just because they are human. Lots of children have responsibilities, such as jobs, looking after family members, and going to school or college. They also have the responsibility to respect other people’s human rights.
How old do children have to be before their views must be listened to?
There is no age from which children have the right to be heard and taken seriously: this right belongs to all children. Article 12 of the UN Convention says that any child that has a view has the right to express it in all things that affect him or her, and that their views must be taken seriously, taking into account their age and maturity.
Can children go to court if their rights are ignored?
Children and young people can’t go to court if their rights under the UN Convention are ignored, because the Convention is not yet part of the law in the UK. The UN also doesn’t have a complaints system especially for children’s rights (although this may change). Children and young people can go to court if their rights under UK law are ignored. These include rights under the Human Rights Act 1998; their rights in education, health and social services; and their right not to be discriminated against.
Judges should also take the UN Convention into account when they’re making decisions because it is an international law the Government has agreed to follow.
Why do children and young people need to know about their rights?
Children need to know about their rights so they know how they should be treated, how they should treat others, and what they are entitled to.
How well does England respect children’s human rights?
Although the Government does a lot of good things for children and young people’s well-being, and tries to make sure they can have their say, lots of children and young people don’t benefit from this. Not all children are treated equally. When the UN Committee checked how the Government was doing on children’s rights in 2008, it made over 120 recommendations about how the Government could do better.
Every year, CRAE looks at how well the Government protects children’s rights. We think the Government could do a lot more to put the UN Convention into practice in England.
Who in the Government is responsible for protecting children's rights?
The Department for Education is in charge of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But the Government doesn’t have a national plan in place to make sure children’s rights are respected and protected.
What does the Children’s Commissioner do for children’s rights?
The Children’s Commissioner has to make sure people listen to the views of children and young people in England and take them seriously. The Commissioner uses the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as the guide for doing this, but is not in charge of putting it into practice.
What does the UN do for children’s rights?
The UN makes sure that the governments that have signed up to the UN Convention do all they can to make sure children and young people can enjoy their rights. It also checks on other human rights treaties that protect children.