The Rights of the Child

Children -have only one opportunity to grow and develop their full potential. The United Nations, through The Convention on the Rights of the Child reaffirms that children, because of their vulnerability, need special care and protection; it places special emphasis on the primary caring and protective responsibility of the family, the need for legal and other protection of the child before and after birth, the importance of and respect for the cultural values of the child's community and the vital role of international cooperation in achieving the realisation of children's rights.

The Convention was initiated by Poland following the International Year of the Child in 1979 and it took ten years to come to fruition. The Convention states that the rights apply to each child without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
A summary of the key rights is as follows:

Survival Rights

1. Children have the right to enough food, water and health care.

2. Children have the right to an adequate standard of living.

3. Children have the right to be with their family or those who will care for them best.

Protection Rights

4. Children have the right to protection from all exploitation, and from physical, mental and sexual abuse.

5. Children have the right to special protection when exposed to armed conflict

6. Children have the right to be protected from all forms of discrimination.

7. Children have the right to be protected from work that threatens their education, health or development.

Development Rights

8. Disabled children have the right to special care and training.

9. Children have the right to play.

10. Children have the right to education.

Participation Rights

11. Children have the right to have their opinions taken into account in decisions affecting their own lives.
12. Children have the right to a name and nationality.
13. Children have a right to know what their rights are.

Programme Ideas

1. Collect newspapers and cut out articles which show that the key rights are being upheld or abused. Make a frieze for display in your Venture Scout meeting place, library or Community centre.

2. Have a discussion to see how Scouting measures up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Prepare a presentation for your Group, District or County Annual General meeting. 'Policy, Organisation and Rules' may be useful and further information on The Convention is available from UNICEF, 55 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3NB. Tel.071~405-5592.

3. Visit the Scout Troop and hold a soap box evening. Invite each Venture Scout to prepare and deliver a one minute presentation on something which is important to young people.

4. Draw some cartoons on'Children's rights' and display them in the hall where your Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts meet.

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