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The legal status of children has evolved over the course of American history, with frequent changes in the balance of rights among the state, parents, and children in response to social and economic transitions. Over time, the state has taken an increasingly active role in protecting and educating children, there by diminishing the rights of parents. It is fair to say, however, that children's rights as a full-blown independent concept has not developed. Even today there are only pockets of law in which children's rights are considered separate from those of their parents, and these are largely in the areas of reproductive rights and criminal justice. For the whole of the colonial period and early Republic, Americans viewed children as economic assets whose labor was valuable to their parents and other adults. In this early era, the father as the head of the household had the complete right to the custody and control of his children both during the marriage and in the rare event of divorce. A father could hire out a child for wages or apprentice a child to another family without the mother's consent. Education, vocational training, and moral development were also the father's responsibility. The state took responsibility for children in one of several circumstances: the death of a father or both parents, the incompetence or financial inability of parents to care for or train their children, and the birth of illegitimate children
A boy working as a "clock boy" on the streets of Merida, Mexico. As minors by law children do not have autonomy or the right to make decisions on their own for themselves in any known jurisdiction of the world. Instead their adult caregivers, including parents, social workers, teachers, youth workers and others, are vested with that authority,
depending on the circumstances.Some believe that this state of affairs gives children insufficient control over their own lives and causes them to be vulnerable. Louis Althusser has gone so far as describe this legal machinery, as it applies to children, as "repressive state apparatuses". Structures such as government policy have been held by some commentators to mask the ways adults abuse and exploit children, resulting in child poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and child labor. On this view, children are to be regarded as a minority group towards whom society needs to reconsider the way it behaves. However, there is no evidence that such views are widely shared in society. Researchers have identified children as needing to be recognized as participants in society whose rights and responsibilities need to be recognized at all ages.
Historic definitions of children's rights
Consensus on defining children's rights has become clearer in the last fifty years. A 1973 publication by Hillary Clinton (then an attorney) stated that children's rights were a "slogan in need of a definition". According to some researchers, the notion of children‘s rights is still not well defined, with at least one proposing that there is no singularly accepted definition or theory of the rights held by children. Children‘s rights law is defined as the point where the law intersects with a child‘s life. That includes juvenile delinquency, due process for children involved in the criminal justice system, appropriate representation, and effective rehabilitative services; care and protection for children in state care; ensuring education for all children regardless of their origin, race, gender, disabilities, or abilities, and; health care and advocacy.
Types of rights
Children's rights are defined in numerous ways, including a wide spectrum of civil, cultural, economic, social and political rights. Rights tend to be of two general types: those advocating for children as autonomous persons under the law and those placing a claim on society for protection from harms perpetrated on children because of their dependency. These have been labeled as the right of empowerment and as the right to protection. One Canadian organization categorizes children's rights into three categories:
Provision: Children have the right to an adequate standard of living, health care, education and services, and to play. These include a balanced diet, a warm bed to sleep in, and access to schooling. Protection: Children have the right to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. This includes the right to safe places for children to play; constructive child rearing behavior, and acknowledgment of the evolving capacities of children. Participation: Children have the right to participate in communities and have programs and services for themselves. This includes children's involvement in libraries and
community programs, youth voice activities, and involving children as decisionmakers. In a similar fashion, the Child Rights Information Network, or CRIN for short, categorizes rights into two groups: 
Economic, social and cultural rights, related to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, health care, and gainful employment. Included are rights to education, adequate housing, food, water, the highest attainable standard of health, the right to work and rights at work, as well as the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. Environmental, cultural and developmental rights, which are sometimes called "third generation rights," and including the right to live in safe and healthy environments and that groups of people have the right to cultural, political, and economic development.
Amnesty International openly advocates four particular children's rights, including the end to juvenile incarceration without parole, an end to the recruitment of military use of children, ending the death penalty for people under 21, and raising awareness of human rights in the classroom. Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization, includes child labor, juvenile justice, orphans and abandoned children, refugees, street children and corporal punishment. Scholarly study generally focuses children's rights by identifying individual rights. The following rights "allow children to grow up healthy and free":
Freedom of speech Freedom of thought Freedom from fear Freedom of choice and the right to make decisions Ownership over one's body
Other issues affecting children's rights include the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Difference between children's rights and youth rights
Main article: Youth rights "In the majority of jurisdictions, for instance, children are not allowed to vote, to marry, to buy alcohol, to have sex, or to engage in paid employment." Within the youth rights movement, it is believed that the key difference between children's rights and youth rights is that children's rights supporters generally advocate the establishment and enforcement of protection for children and youths, while youth rights (a far smaller movement) generally advocates the expansion of freedom for children and/or youths and of rights such as suffrage. Also, many people who support youth rights, are concerned with adolescents and not children.
See also: Parents' rights movement Parents affect the lives of children in a unique way, and as such their role in children's rights has to be distinguished in a particular way. Particular issues in the child-parent relationship include child neglect, child abuse, freedom of choice, corporal punishment and child custody. There have been theories offered that provide parents with rights-based practices that resolve the tension between "commonsense parenting" and children's rights. The issue is particularly relevant in legal proceedings that affect the potential emancipation of minors, and in cases where children sue their parents. A child's rights to a relationship with both their parents is increasingly recognized as an important factor for determining the best interests of the child in divorce and child custody proceedings. Some governments have enacted laws creating a rebuttable presumption that shared parenting is in the best interests of children. Movement Main article: Children's rights movement See also: Timeline of children's rights in the United Kingdom and Timeline of children's rights in the United States The 1796 publication of Thomas Spence's The Rights of Infants is among the earliest Englishlanguage assertions of the rights of children. Throughout the 1900s children's rights activists organized for homeless children's rights and public education. The 1927 publication of The Child's Right to Respect by Janusz Korczak strengthened the literature surrounding the field, and today dozens of international organizations are working around the world to promote children's rights. Opposition The opposition to children's rights far outdates any current trend in society, with recorded statements against the rights of children dating to the 1200s and earlier. Opponents to children's rights believe that young people need to be protected from the adultcentric world, including the decisions and responsibilities of that world. In the dominate adult society, childhood is idealized as a time of innocence, a time free of responsibility and conflict, and a time dominated by play. The majority of opposition stems from concerns related to national sovereignty, states' rights, the parent-child relationship. Financial constraints and the "undercurrent of traditional values in opposition to children's rights" are cited, as well. The concept of children's rights has received little attention in the United States.
Further information: Children's rights in Mali, Children's rights in Chile, and Children's rights in Colombia The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is seen as a basis for all international legal standards for children's rights today. There are several conventions and laws that address children's rights around the world. A number of current and historical documents affect those rights, including the 1923 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, drafted by Eglantyne Jebb and her sister Dorothy Buxton in London, England in 1919, endorsed by the League of Nations and adopted by the United Nations in 1946. It later served as the basis for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Convention on the Rights of the Child Main article: Convention on the Rights of the Child The United Nations' 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Its implementation is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. National governments that ratify it commit themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights, and agree to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. The CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty with 190 ratifications. Somalia and USA are the only two countries which have not agreed to the CRC. The CRC is based on four core principles, namely the principle of non discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and considering the views of the child in decisions which affect them (according to their age and maturity). The CRC, along with international criminal accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court, the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, is said to have significantly increased the profile of children's rights worldwide. Enforcement A variety of enforcement organizations and mechanisms exist to ensure children's rights and the successful implementation of the Union. They include the Child Rights Caucus for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children. It was set up to promote full implementation and compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to ensure that child rights were given priority during the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children and its Preparatory process. The United Nations Human Rights Council was created "with the hope that it could be more objective, credible and efficient in denouncing human rights violations worldwide than the highly politicised Commission on Human Rights." The NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a coalition of international nongovernmental organisations originally formed in 1983 to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Many countries around the world have children's rights ombudspeople or children's commissioners whose official, governmental duty is to represent the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens regarding children's rights. Children's ombudspeople can also work for a corporation, a newspaper, an NGO, or even for the general public. Children are generally afforded the basic rights embodied by the Constitution, as enshrined by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Equal Protection Clause of that amendment is to apply to children, born within a marriage or not, but excludes children not yet born. This was reinforced by the landmark US Supreme Court decision of In re Gault. In this trial 15-year-old Gerald Gault of Arizona was taken into custody by local police after being accused of making an obscene telephone call. He was detained and committed to the Arizona State Industrial School until he reached the age of 21 for making an obscene phone call to an adult neighbor. In an 8–1 decision, the Court ruled that in hearings which could result in commitment to an institution, people under the age of 18 have the right to notice and counsel, to question witnesses, and to protection against self-incrimination. The Court found that the procedures used in Gault's hearing met none of these requirements. There are other concerns in the United States regarding children's rights. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys is concerned with children's rights to a safe, supportive and stable family structure. Their position on children's rights in adoption cases states that, "children have a constitutionally based liberty interest in the protection of their established families, rights which are at least equal to, and we believe outweigh, the rights of others who would claim a 'possessory' interest in these children." Other issues raised in American children's rights advocacy include children's rights to inheritance in same-sex marriagesparticular rights for youth
Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This
practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. Child labour was utilized to varying extents through most of history, but entered public dispute with the advent of universal schooling, with changes in working conditions during the industrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts of workers' and children's rights. In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age works (excluding household chores or school-related work). An employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below a certain minimum age. This minimum age depends
on the country and the type of work involved. States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labour Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16. The incidence of child labour in the world decreased from 25 to 10 percent between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank.
Different Types custody
Legal Custody: When a parent has legal custody, that parent has the right to make any decisions regarding the needs of the child. The parent can make all decisions about education, health care and religion with consultation of the other parent. In most states, the courts will award joint legal custody so that both parents can retain their legal rights as far as any decisions made about or for their child. Physical Custody: Physical custody means that the child lives with one parent with only visitation to with the other parent. If the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents then the state might award joint physical custody giving parents the right to equal amounts of time with the child. Sole Custody: In this case, the parent can have either sole legal custody or sole physical custody or both. Unless it is proven that a parent is unfit, there is a trend in the Family Courts to award custody in a manner that will give the non-custodial parent an opportunity to play a larger role in their child‘s life. It is very rare in today‘s society for a court to award sole legal custody. Even when the court orders sole physical custody, the non – custodial parent is able to enjoy ample visitation. In sole physical custody, both parents share equally in any decisions made regarding the child‘s needs. Joint Custody:
Joint custody means that custody of the child is awarded to both parents. It is the same as sole custody and can be awarded as joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both. Custody issues are confusing because the laws and the language used vary from state to state. The way the final decree reads regarding custody and individual state laws determine the meaning of the wording in your divorce decree. The Cornell Law School web site is a great start when researching state laws concerning child custody and other divorce laws by state. I would encourage any parent going through a divorce to research your state laws pertaining to custody for a better understanding of what to expect of Child Custody
Convention on the Rights of the Child
© UNICEF/ HQ05-1244/LeMoyne Children have rights as human beings and also
need special care and protection. UNICEF‘s mission is to advocate for the protection of children‘s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards—also called human rights—set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere. With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the parallel rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and indivisible; we cannot ensure some rights without—or at the expense of— other rights. A legally binding instrument The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too. The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. States parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child.
Children Rights - Guide to Children Rights Law Children's Rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young, including their right to association with both
Biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child. Find Attorneys for Children´s Rights Children Rights Law - US
ABA - Children's Rights Litigation Committee The Children's Rights Litigation Committee was created by the Section of Litigation to address the vast underrepresentation of children in all aspects of the legal system. The Committee endeavors to increase the number of children's legal projects and pro bono attorneys to represent children, along with providing training materials and programs in order to assist advocates in providing the highest quality of representation for children. Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is a global network that disseminates information about the Convention on the Rights of the Child and child rights amongst nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, inter-governmental organisation (IGOs), educational institutions, and other child rights experts. Children's right to HIV and AIDS treatment The Global Movement for Children (GMC) is the world-wide movement of organisations and people - including children - uniting efforts to build a world fit for children. Children's Rights Children's Rights is a national watchdog organization advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children in the U.S. Since 1995, the organization has used legal action and policy initiatives to create lasting improvements in child protection, foster care and adoption. European Children's Network (EURONET) The European Children's Network - EURONET - is a coalition of networks and organisations campaigning for the interests and rights of children (defined in the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as all persons under 18 years of age). They share a common concern that children's rights should be taken into account in all EU legislation, policies and programmes which have an impact on children's rights. Human Rights Watch - Children's Rights Division The Children's Rights Division monitors human rights abuses against children around the world and works to end them. We investigate all kinds of human rights abuses against children: the use of children as soldiers; the worst forms of child labor; torture of children by police; police violence against street children; conditions in correctional institutions and orphanages; corporal punishment in schools; mistreatment of refugee and migrant children; trafficking of children for labor and prostitution; discrimination in education because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or HIV/AIDS; and physical and sexual violence against girls and boys. Children's physical and intellectual immaturity makes them particularly vulnerable to human rights violations.
Unicef Convention on the Rights of the Child UNICEF‘s mission is to advocate for the protection of children‘s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. United Nations Children's Rights To highlight the existence of the most egregious violations of international human rights law and encourage Governments to investigate particular cases, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has appointed a Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Children Rights Law - International
Children RIght and the Law The papers and comments in this volume are drawn from contributions to a Workshop on 'Children, Rights and the Law' organized by the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University. The purpose of the Workshop was to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a vehicle for exploring some theoretical and practical problems with children's rights. Children‘s Rights: International and National Laws and Practices Children‘s Rights examines sixteen nations, across five continents: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, and the United Kingdom (England and Wales). For each nation, the study focuses on the domestic laws and policies that affect child health and social welfare, education and special needs, child labor and exploitation, sale and trafficking of children, and juvenile justice. National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) is a non-profit child advocacy and professional membership association. The NACC is dedicated to providing high quality legal representation for children. Our mission is to improve the lives of children and families through legal advocacy National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse The National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse works to improve the handling of child abuse cases by providing: Expert training and technical assistance by experienced attorneys; A clearinghouse on child abuse case law; Research on substantive child abuse information National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) The mission of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, together with its state and local members, is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes. Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
About Child Abuse Physical Abuse; Emotional Abuse; Sexual Abuse; Neglect; Shaken Baby Syndrome; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children is a national organization whose mission is to enhance the ability of professionals to respond to children and families affected by abuse and violence. Child Aabuse Law Childabuselaw informs visitors about the handling of child abuse allegations in the legal system. It reports related developments in law, medicine, and psychology. The site's legal coverage focuses on Washington State, where its publisher practices law, but includes selected court decisions and statutes from other states. Child Maltreatment Child maltreatment is the general term used to describe all forms of child abuse and neglect. There is no one commonly accepted definition of "child abuse and neglect." The federal government defines child abuse and neglect in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act as "the physical and mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child‘s welfare under circumstances which indicate that the child‘s health or welfare is harmed or threatened Child protection and abuse prevention information Sexual Abuse Laws; Internet Crimes Against Children; Archive of Abuse Laws; Archive of Court Rulings; Child Law Guides & Publications End Child Prostitution, Child Pronography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) Mission: Realisation of the right of all children to live free of child prostitution, child pornography and child trafficking for sexual purposes National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) is to facilitate the secondary analysis of research data relevant to the study of child abuse and neglect. By making data available to increasing numbers of researchers, NDACAN seeks to provide an accessible and scientifically productive means for researchers to explore important issues in the child maltreatment field. National Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children (NFANC) National Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children (NFANC) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Other activities include improving the administration of juvenile justice in America. The organization's principal mission is to enable people to prevent crime and build safer, more caring communities. Reducing Children's Exposure to Violence
Strategies and best practices to reduce exposure of children to violence in homes and communities provided by the California Attorney General's Office
U.S> Department of Justice - Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) The mission of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) is to protect the welfare of America‘s children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to the exploitation of children and obscenity. Articles on HG.org Related to Children Rights Law
All Civil Rights Law Related Articles Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Civil Rights including: constitutional law, consumer law, discrimination, human rights, native populations, privacy law, public law and sexual harassment.
Child Protection Policy
Introduction Our mission is to encourage and enable children and young people to promote the holistic health, well-being and development of themselves, their families and their communities worldwide. We believe in children‘s active participation and in respecting their freedom of expression and communication, which are advocated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe that child protection is crucial to ensuring that children under 18 years of age have the rights, confidence and environment in which they can make choices, express their views and communicate effectively with other children and adults. Children cannot become empowered change agents to improve their lives and that of their families and communities if they are not safeguarded from abuse, discrimination and harm of any kind, be it physical, sexual, emotional or neglect. While this document relates to the Child-to-Child Trust UK, it will be necessary in the future for all of our international partners to develop a Child Protection Policy that is appropriate to their own culture and legal system (taking into account the universal human rights standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). 1. Definitions Child
For the purposes of this policy, a ―child‖ is defined as anyone under the age of 18, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child abuse • According to the World Health Organisation, ―Child abuse‖ or ―maltreatment‖ constitutes ‗all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child‘s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.‘ 1 • NSPCC similarly specify ―cruelty to children‖ or ―child abuse‖ as ‗behaviour that causes significant harm to a child. It also includes when someone knowingly fails to prevent serious harm to a child. All forms of cruelty are damaging – it can be harder to recover from the emotional impact than from the physical effects.‘ 2 • These definitions therefore point to four types of cruelty: o Physical abuse: including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning, drowning, or smothering. o Sexual abuse: including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities. o Emotional abuse: repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings. o Neglect: the persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention. • A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty. • Discrimination, harassment, and bullying are also abusive and can harm a child, both physically and emotionally. Child protection A broad term to describe philosophies, policies, standards, guidelines and procedures to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm. In the current context, it applies particularly to the duty of Child-to-Child – and individuals associated with Child-to-Child – towards children in their care. Direct contact with children Being in the physical presence of a child or children in the context of Child-to-Child‘s work, whether contact is occasional or regular, short or long term. In the UK this could involve delivering talks to schools, churches and youth groups. Overseas this could involve project/site visits and attending conferences at which children are also present. [N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive]. Indirect contact with children 1) Having access to information on children in the context of Child-to-Child‘s work, such as children‘s names, locations (addresses of individuals or projects), photographs and case studies. 2) Providing funding for organisations that work ‗directly‘ with children. Albeit indirectly, this nonetheless has an impact on children, and therefore confers upon the donor organisation responsibility for child protection issues. [N.B. this list of examples is not exhaustive].
Partner For the purposes of this policy: 3) An overseas organisation that receives funding from Child-to-Child, whether funding is occasional or regular, short or long term, for a specific project or towards core costs and regardless of the amount of money involved. 4) An overseas organisation involved in project work with Child-to-Child, whether the project relationship is short or long term, a one-off or regular/ongoing arrangement, and regardless of whether or not any funding is involved. Policy ‗A statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to safeguard children from harm and makes clear to all what is required in relation to the protection of children. It helps to create a safe and positive environment for children and to show that the organisation is taking its duty and responsibility of care seriously.‘ [Setting the Standard: A common approach to Child Protection for international NGOs, Standard 1 (Policy).] 2. Child-to-Child’s core child protection principles and values • The legal basis – the UNCRC: Child-to-Child‘s Child Protection Policy is firmly based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Taken holistically, the CRC provides a comprehensive framework for the protection, provision and participation of all children without discrimination to ensure their survival and development to the maximum extent possible. On the understanding that the CRC must be read as a whole, the following articles nevertheless form the specific basis of child protection: 1 (definition of ‗child‘), 2 (nondiscrimination), 3.1 (the best interests of the child), 3.2 (duty of care and protection), 3.3 (standards of care), 6 (survival and development), 12 (participation), 13 (freedom of expression), 19 (protection from violence), 25 (periodic review of placements), 32, 33, 34, 36, 37(a) (protection from economic exploitation, substance abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, ‗all other forms of exploitation‘; torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), 39 (physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration). • The moral basis – a non-negotiable duty: Child-to-Child believes that NGOs working for street children‘s rights have an absolute duty to protect this already vulnerable group from abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation from within organisations intended for their benefit. This duty is imperative and non-negotiable. Without adequate standards and mechanisms of protection in place, an organisation is not only failing in its primary duty of care, but may also be negligently or recklessly fostering an environment of abuse. • An end to silence: Silence breeds abuse and exploitation of children. Paedophiles will seek out organisations with weak communication structures and thrive where secrecy and shame prevail. Furthermore, without proper policies and explicit procedures in place, NGOs are extremely vulnerable to false allegations of child abuse. Child-to-Child therefore believes in: o creating an environment where issues of child protection are discussed openly and are understood between children and adults; o promoting open lines of communication both internally and externally within and between
organisations to improve awareness and implementation of child protection policies and practices; o creating a framework to deal openly, consistently and fairly with allegations concerning both direct and indirect abuse. • Children’s participation – a space and a voice: Creating a space where children feel able and willing to speak out about abuse, free from abusers, empowers them to become actors in their own protection without further discrimination or shame. ―Children have the right to communication – to enable them to receive information, to ask questions, to make choices, and to make decisions.‖[Quoted from Sense International Child Protection Policy, Section 2.1.2] Child-to-Child believes that helping children to find a voice is an essential step to helping them to claim their individual rights. Children will only benefit from this policy if they are aware of their rights and are given the proper environment in which to exercise them. • Taking it further: Child protection is not just about reading and signing a piece of paper: the policy sets out guidelines and standards that must be put into practice. These include, amongst other measures: recruitment procedures, review of management structures, creation of a space for children to speak out, staff training, and development of transparent protocols. ‗Above all, it must be remembered that it is the children, not the standards, that are sacrosanct; and although abuse must never be tolerated, the standards are no more than a tool in the service of promoting the welfare of children.‘ [Setting the Standard: A common approach to Child Protection for international NGOs, anonymous INGO quotation, p.6.] •Challenging complacency: Resistance to addressing child protection issues may come from lack of understanding of the nature of child abuse, lack of commitment to the organisation/programme, and a sense that child abuse happens elsewhere. Organisations should ask themselves: ―If safety and well being of children are not at the centre of the organisation‘s programme/activities, then why not?‖ ‗It is unfortunate and unacceptable that it will take an horrendous incident to shock some organisations into action‘. Child-to-Child will challenge complacency as a matter of course .[Adapted, with selected quotations, from ECPAT Australia, Choose with Care, p.34.] • These principles underpin all of the following standards set out in this document. 3. The need for a Child Protection Policy „Any international NGO should have a Child Protection Policy if its direct or indirect beneficiaries include individuals under the age of 18‟ [ Setting the Standard: A common approach to Child Protection for international NGOs, Standard 1 (Policy).] • It is the duty of Child-to-Child to ensure that the promotion of children‘s rights includes specifically protecting children from accidental harm as well as deliberate abuse within organisations intended for their benefit. This policy will assist in fulfilling this duty. • Street-involved children are especially vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and ill-treatment at the
hands of carers, other project workers, and those with access to their personal information. In the case of children who have run away from home, many have already experienced ruptured relationships of trust or abuse of an adult-child relationship in the form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse. • Organisations working with vulnerable children have been, are and will continue to be vulnerable to harbouring abuse until the issues are brought into the open. • Organisations without protection policies, guidelines and systems are more vulnerable to false or malicious accusations of abuse. • Without proper policies, guidelines and procedures in place, allegations of abuse, whether founded or unfounded, can destroy an organisation‘s reputation. This will have serious implications for fundraising (thus undermining an organisation‘s entire portfolio of work, even beyond the scope of the particular project concerned) as well as damaging the reputation of the street children NGO sector as a whole. 4. The Child-To-Child Child Protection Policy Staff and Personnel As a condition of working with our organisation, all trustees, employees, officers, staff, interns, volunteers, researchers, consultants, and advisers of the Child-to-Child Trust UK are required to undergo the following: 1. Satisfactory clearance through a police check conducted by the Criminal Records Bureau. 2. Both acceptance of and commitment to our Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct for working with children. 3. Signing a personal declaration stating any criminal convictions, including spent convictions. 4. Providing the name and contact information of two character references they have known for no less than two years, excluding family members. Management Dr. Tashmin Kassam-Khamis is our designated Child Protection Officer and she is responsible for the day-to-day implementation, supervision and monitoring of the Child Protection Policy in the Child-to-Child Trust UK. The disclosure of personal information about children, including legal cases, will be limited to those employees, contractors, trustees, officers, interns and volunteers who need to know. The Board of Trustees will have the overall responsibility to oversee and ensure the policy‘s implementation. Training and Education Training and education are essential to implementing the Child Protection Policy. Dr. Tashmin Kassam-Khamis will ensure that orientation training about the Child Protection Policy is given to all staff and personnel, which will include training on behaviour guidelines for those in direct contact with children, and guidance on the acceptable and unacceptable sharing of information on children. In conjunction with the Consortium for Street Children, opportunities for staff to
learn about, recognise and respond to child abuse will also be available to all representatives. Behaviour Protocols Any trustee, employee, officer, staff member, intern, volunteer, researcher, consultant, or adviser who has direct contact with children either in the UK or overseas will be fully informed of Childto-Child‘s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct includes guidance on appropriate behaviour of adults towards children and of children towards children (see full document). Communications about Children All publications and the website that include images and text related to children will not contain the following: • Manipulated or sensationalised text and/or images • Discriminatory and degrading language • Images in which children are inappropriately clothed • Information that could be used to identify the location of the child and cause them to be put at risk Photos of children that will be included on the website or any of our publications must be taken with the child‘s verbal permission. In addition, all information relating to children is limited to those members of staff who need to know and will be treated as confidential. Reporting Incidents All witnessed, suspected or alleged violations of the Child Protection Policy will be immediately reported to the designated Child Protection Officer, who will record and act on these in a confidential manner in accordance with the standardised process developed by Child-to-Child and the best interests of the child. The Child-to-Child Trust will take appropriate action to protect the child/children in question from further harm and others in the organisation during and following an incident or allegation. The relevant contact details for child protection services, local social services department, police, emergency medical help and help lines (e.g. NSPCC) will also be readily available and easily accessible. Ramifications of Misconduct We will immediately suspend any employee, adviser, consultant, trustee, intern or volunteer who is alleged to have violated the Child Protection Policy, pending the outcome of an investigation. Child-toChild reserves the right to take any disciplinary action against any of the above who have been proven guilty in an investigation
INDICATORS FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
1. Dominant themes in the Report The basic principle of this Report is that children's rights should be monitored in a holistic and systematic fashion, using a regroupment of the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the framework. This recognizes the inter-relatedness of rights and also stresses the importance of viewing children themselves holistically by integrating the data about them rather than separating data on different aspects of childhood, such as health, family life and work. The Zimbabwe Country Case Study Team identified two main issues that ran through all six groups of articles in the Protocol document and which must be taken into consideration in any future development of a national system for monitoring children's rights. The first is the way in which a 'child' is variously defined in official data or by custom. The second is the influence of ethnicity and religion on children's lives. This chapter examines some of the factors involved in both these underlying influences on the way data are produced. It ends with a brief discussion of an important absence in existing data, which reveal a resounding silence on the topic of children's participation, for which provisions exist in Articles 12-15 of the Convention.
Definition of 'child' In African countries, as elsewhere, it is impossible to define a child without making reference to the cultural value system. In African traditional value systems children constitute the focal point
of life, ensuring the replacement and growth of society. Family life was not only about the relationship between a child and his/her parents but also about a child's relationship with the environment including the unseen gods and ancestors. Life without producing child was and is often viewed as meaningless. Couples who are unable to produce children usually have to take action. This might mean divorcing a barren wife and getting another, or marrying a second wife, or consulting a traditional healer. Children in the African traditional context were not thought of as belonging exclusively to their parents but also to the community and the broader group of kin, a fact that is recognized in Article 31 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children. Thus a child had obligations first to the community and kinsmen and then, after these to its parents. By the same token the community had considerable authority over parents, meaning in principle that the wider society was able to protect children against abuse, neglect and exploitation by parents. These issues are further discussed in Chapter 2, which considers the contexts of children-parent relationships in Zimbabwe with reference to the relevant articles of both the Convention and the Charter. Nevertheless, this is a dominant theme that runs through all the groups, producing some problems that will have to be solved if a meaningful monitoring system is to be developed.
Definitions of a child in a Zimbabwean context. The Children's Protection and Adoption Act, Chapter 33, defines a child in section 2 as any person (including an infant) under the age of 16 years. The Legal Age of Majority Act, 1982, defines any person below the age of 18 as a minor. A person between the age of 16 and 18 is defined as a young person in Chapter 33. It has been suggested that Chapter 33 be amended to reflect 18 years as the only age of majority to avoid confusions and loopholes. This definition is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However it is noted that the Zimbabwean cultural or traditional definitions of a child differ to some extent. According to customary practices in Zimbabwe a person is still a child as long as he or she remains under parental authority rather than being defined by chronological age. In general, children are viewed differently from one ethnic group to the other, according to their socioeconomic status, gender and whether they live in urban or rural areas. The terms used to refer to persons under the age of 18 (and subgroups between zero and 18 years) are different, as are the expectations of the corresponding activities duties and responsibilities. But perhaps the most significant definitions of child for this report are those that occur in official documents. It is as if each Ministry constructs a different child, with different age groupings and disaggregations in the data. Thus a child is a pupil in educational terms, a delinquent in the field of juvenile justice, a victim or object of concern in welfare circles. Some official constructions of 'the child' we identified in Zimbabwean official discourses have an impact on the ways in which data are collected and published, which is implicit rather than explicit, revealing some interesting assumptions. The data on children-parent relationships, for example, are governed by the idea that a child needs protection. This implies a need for parental guidance, being subject to parental authority
and generally being an object of concern. This brings with it the assumption that a child should be seen but not heard. In related academic discourses, children are conceptualized as being vulnerable to environmental factors (especially through their economic activities). The protection to which children are subject takes away rights to participation. The emphasis is on adults, who decide in the children's interests not only in legal, but also in customary structures (see Armstrong, 1994 for a discussion of this). In government actions on behalf of children 'in need of care' it is adults who take decisions, including the type of care, in which institution. Adults have a conservative role, educating and socializing in order to conserve existing roles, values and notions of authority and respect. Nevertheless it is paradoxical that the very important customary value accorded to collective responsibility is not reflected in the way data on children-parent relationships are collected and analyzed. Despite the fact that the definition of parent in all but the most modernized families is inclusive of many persons other than a child's biological parents, data invariably concentrate on the nuclear family group of children and their biological parents, thus ignoring the richer texture of the family contexts in which children actually live. With respect to education there is a tendency to assumes universal enrollment and access to schools. Data on child exploitation and child labour construct child victims without recognition of the economic contribution of children. The relationship between work and education is a grey area in the data, and there is little attempt to collate information from different sources even where this could be done, leading the Team to conclude that there are vested interests that benefit from confusion in this field. As in the case of children-parent relationships the data assume the existence of a privatized middle-class, nuclear family as a norm.
Ethnicity and religion The second theme the Case Study Team identified as running through all data is that of ethnicity, even though it is not always explicit. In terms of developing a monitoring system for children's rights it is essential to know the extent to which these rights are achieved for children of different ethnic or religious groups, yet this information is not currently available. Ethnicity and religion have been grouped together because they tend to play the same role, of defining identity. Here we examine this function, as well as its impact on children's lives. The discussion places greater emphasis on ethnicity. This is not only because there is relatively more data on ethnicity but also because it tends to have a wider social impact than religion, which is often less politicized within the Southern African context in general.
The historical origins of ethnicity or 'tribalism' In African countries the topic of ethnicity is often related to issues of national identity. According to Nzongola-Ntalaja: In the Western media, the popular image of Africa is that of countries torn apart by ancient tribal enmities that complicate and retard the development of national consciousness.... All African political crises are explained in terms of tribalism defined as
an attachment to one's's 'tribe' or ethnic group, which remains a more relevant unit of identification than the country as a whole (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 1987: 43). In pre-colonial Africa, nations at different levels and structures existed. These corresponded to social formations made up of closely related lineages, or other kinship groups, each unified by a core of cultural tradition and a relatively durable politico-administrative structure. These were held together by ruling classes based on tribute collection, which had succeeded in promoting the growth of long-distance trade, protecting markets and trade routes and ensuring the centralization and redistribution of any surplus produce. Myths of origin, ideologies of kingship and oral histories of migrations and conquests were instrumental in creating for these ruling classes a cultural tradition that served to cement national identities and to help galvanize political loyalty and support among the people. The national fact was so real for some of these societies that, even after disintegration as the result of external conquest and colonial rule, attempts were made to revive them in the post-colonial period (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 1987: 45-5). Nevertheless, as the result of colonial conquest and occupation, the potential of African social formations to develop viable, modern nations was greatly diminished. Those nations that existed at the time of the conquests lost their vitality, if not their very existence. During the colonial period, traditional leaders served as subordinate agents of local administrations as well as representing their subjects to the colonial states. They were used to supervise tasks set out by the colonial rulers, which were mainly extractive and regulatory in nature: revenue collection, labour recruitment, conscription, forced labour on public projects, compulsory cultivation of certain crops for export, maintaining law and order and so forth. Alienated in this way from their traditional rulers, the ordinary people were forced to seek new leadership in their struggle against colonialism and they found this in the new African petit-bourgeoisies (ibid: 46). Thus the impact of colonialism on the national question was complex. On the one hand colonial rule resulted in the fading away of a large number of pre-colonial nations, or their disintegration into what Nzongola-Ntalaja calls a 'formless conglomeration of more or less related ethnic groups' (ibid). On the other hand, colonialism unified different African nationalities and peoples under a single territorial and institutional framework, widened their social space as a result of a greater inter-ethnic interaction through the institutions and practices of colonial systems and thus created a common historical experience of economic exploitation, political and administrative oppression, and cultural oppression. The challenge for post-colonial African states has been to protect and enhance the inter-ethnic stability that was set in motion by colonial rule. In the event some countries fell apart at independence and there is continuing fear that leaders in post-colonial Africa might cement their countries through despotism (ibid). Thus most national boundaries in Africa are arbitrary colonial creations. Of the 53 countries in Africa only ten correspond to pre-colonial historical states, while four others have a clearlydefined cultural identity (Algeria, Botswana, Somalia and Western Sahara). With few exceptions, the remaining 39 states comprise a mixture of peoples, without a core cultural tradition. For these countries national construction involves the development of a multi-ethnic entity, based on a common history of colonial oppression and a commitment to forging a new
cultural identity that is linked to all past traditions without being strongly attached to any one (ibid). Nevertheless, states are quite often linked to one dominant tradition, which may have been imposed on peripheral groups or minorities. It is in this context that issues of ethnicity in postcolonial Africa have frequently been associated with instability and crises through armed conflict.
Ethnicity at national and local levels in multicultural environments Thus the impact of colonialism has brought together peoples of different cultures and origins. The result is that people tend to want to establish either links or boundaries, finding out whether or not they are related. It is very common in Zimbabwe for people to ask each other what is their region of origin, and which chief or village headman they have as authority. In such cases ethnicity is about identity, but also about so much more. Like religion, ethnicity can be used as a resource. Thus Wolcott, noted in his study of beer gardens in the Zimbabwean town of Bulawayo: I was intrigued with one African observer's perspective on the alleged detribalizing influence of the city. 'We do not become detribalized in the city' he explained, 'It is quite the opposite.... An African doesn't really have a tribe until he comes here and meets people who are different from him ( Wolcott, 1974: 47). A similar comment has been made about Latin American peasants who migrate to urban areas: 'Becoming urban involves an extension of cultural equipment, but it does not necessarily imply a commensurate rejection or loss' (Gilbert & Gugler, 1987: 119). In the South African urban scenario, Harries noted that ethnicity and regionalism can be invoked by using such terms as 'home-boy' and also making use of fictive kinship terminology: Allegiance to the kin group did not diminish loyalty to the wider chiefdom, and people found a political identity in both institutions. But in the cosmopolitan society of the diamond fields, these political identities were too narrow and restrictive to function effectively, and gradually, the fictive element in kinship was extended to include a wider community in which the chief was replaced by culture as the focus of loyalty. At the same time, the society that accepted fictive kinship could easily extend this belief into a putative ethnicity built on the use of familial terms such as 'brother' or 'uncle' to describe the relations between the workers (Harries, 1994: 64). Ethnicity like kinship is based ion myths of origin, ascriptive and putative belonging, as well as relations of reciprocity. This may also be expressed in a system of social assistance in which, for example, fictive kinsmen carry a sick man's food or paid his medical costs and burial fees because no actual kin are available in the city. The formation of these loose corporate groups is also based on the principle of excluding outsiders. Groups thus become conscious of their own identities by noting difference (ibid: 63-5; Cohen, 1988; Nzongola-Ntalaja, 1987).
Religion may be as important as ethnic or tribal identity as a means of setting a group distinctly apart (Bourdillon, 1993; Cohen, 1988; Dillon-Malone, 1978; Parkin, 1976). For example, DillonMalone, the sect known as the Apostles, which is widespread in Southern Africa (including Zimbabwe), continued to remain a closed community in which protection was offered against anything which might tend to lessen their basic commitment to their new way of life. No one was allowed to mix with outsiders or to work for them; marriage to non-believers was forbidden; and everyone was expected to work for, and contribute towards the welfare of the entire community. The Apostles looked upon themselves as the elect of God and they would not risk the danger of contamination from the outside world (DillonMalone, 1978: 120). Becoming an adherent of a particular religion may bring its own benefits, such as the accumulation of wealth or the protection of new markets (Cohen, 1988). It can lead to new ideas and thus to new sources of wealth, as Bourdillon noted in Zimbabwe and Long in Zambia (Bourdillon, 1983; Long, 1984). Yet it can also lead to severing traditional obligations, especially those towards kin, as Parkin described in his study of the Giriama of Kenya (Parkin, 1972).
The Zimbabwean reality As is the case in most other African countries, the borders of Zimbabwe cut across linguistic communities that are also found in neighboring countries. In Zimbabwe the term 'minority languages' is used to refer to Zimbabwean African languages other than Ndebele and Shona (including various recognized Shona dialects). The groups that have these languages as their mother tongue are largely found in the areas close to the border between Zimbabwe and its neighbours, while the bulk of the centre of the country is occupied by the Shona with Ndebele dominant in the southwestern region. The term minority language refers largely to the limited usefulness of these tongues in the wider national community, yet the criteria used to determine minority languages are controversial (Hachipola, 1994: 1). The list of minority languages includes at least fourteen African languages, five of which (Chewa/Nyanja, Kalanga, Nambya, Shangani and Venda) are recognized by the government as languages of instruction between Grades 1 and 3 in primary schools in areas in which they are spoken by the majority of the population. Hachipola notes that there has been little concern to develop minority languages, even by past colonial regimes. Any interest that was shown was largely due to Christian missionaries. In the educational system prior to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Smith regime in 1964 some of these languages were taught in schools up to Standard 6, others only up to Standard 1, which was the equivalent of the current Grade 3. The remainder of a child's education in those languages had to be completed in areas outside the Zimbabwean borders (ibid: 4-5). Within Zimbabwe there was no real attempt to develop these languages, either by the Department of Native Affairs or by the missionaries who promoted them.
Although Ndebele and Shona were actively promoted, there was a gradual decline in the use of minority language in schools to the extent that by independence, in 1980, none were being taught. One reason for this was the corresponding decline in missionary schools. These were taken over by the government, which was only prepared to promote Shona and Ndebele. Thus, according to Hachipola, although there is a high degree of multi-lingualism in Zimbabwe, it is somewhat lopsided because it is people within the minority communities that are bilingual in African languages (although it should be noted that there are also many in those communities that only speak their mother tongue) (ibid: 2). This state of affairs persists. In 1997 the Government of Zimbabwe committed itself to the promotion of minority languages by setting up a commission of inquiry to look into the issue. But the problem is the lack of financial resources available for promoting languages that are limited in distribution and use, as well as of teachers with thorough knowledge and expertise in the written forms. In addition Hachipola points to a further reason. Immediately after independence in 1980 Zimbabwe experienced serious political disturbances, bordering on civil war. The main actors in this civil strife were the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which was then predominantly Shona, and the Zimbabwe African People's Union - Patriotic Front (ZAPU-PF), which was largely based in Nbebele territory in Matabeleland, although it enjoyed some support from the Shona community (see Williams, 1982). During these disturbances minority communities agitated for recognition, arguing that, since they had fought for independence like everyone else, they deserved to be treated as integral to the new nation, including seeing their languages reinstated in schools and the national media.
Ethnicity and religion related to children's rights and welfare In political rhetoric children are often referred to as 'the future'. Children are the means for rejuvenating society through appropriate training and socialization, simultaneously preserving tradition and recreating it within the contemporary context. Ethnicity and language are basic to the processes of socialization and thus central aspects of the experience of childhood. This is recognized in both Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and through the various references to African cultural traditions in the African Charter (Preamble, Articles 11, and 31). The specific impact of ethnicity on childhoods in Zimbabwe is given in the fact that the languages labeled 'minority' are largely found at the geographical borders of the country. Generally speaking these areas are less habitable from the point of view of climate and not suitable for intensive farming. Thus there is less economic development and correspondingly less social infrastructure. Children's welfare is thus affected by inadequate provision in schools, clinics and other social services. Children of minority language groups generally have no access to education in their mother tongue. Some children also do not have access to immunization or medical care, as well as education, because they are born into groups that fear contamination or dilution of their culture if children are involved in mainstream institutions. For instance, the Basarwa, in the northwest of Zimbabwe, and various Apostolic sects within the country refuse to have their children immunized.
There is thus a fine balance to be maintained in terms of ethnic rights and childhood in Zimbabwe, in which the responsibility of the state to provide services (under for example Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Article 14 of the African Charter) may be in tension with the rights of peoples to self-determination, including children's rights to be educated in their mother tongue, as well as with emphases on the importance of parental and community roles in socialization in both the UN Convention and the OAU Charter. These issues require further discussion and debate and are deeply ingrained in all considerations of both childhood and the data referring to children in Zimbabwe.
A central absence: Participation Child participation is a theme that runs through-out the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 para 1 provides that: States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the view of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. It has been claimed that, in one way or another, nearly every article in the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerns itself with some aspect of children's participation in society (UNHCR, 1994:23) Yet there is no specific definition in the Convention, or in the burgeoning literature about children's participation about what exactly is being provided as a right in this case. Many forms of children's participation can be identified in the Convention, including social participation in the family (see Articles 7.1; 10); participation in community life (Articles 15; 17); and participation of those children with special needs, such as children with disabilities (Article 23) as well as the potential for independent political and democratic action (Articles 1215). According to Roger Hart's discussion of the meaning of children's participation, it refers to the process of sharing decisions which affect one's life and the life of the community in which one lives, it is the means by which a democracy is built and is a standard against which democracies should be measured. Participation is thus the fundamental right of citizenship. The idea of children's participation means that 'children need to be involved in meaningful projects (and activities) with adults' (Hart, 1992: 5). Hart goes on to say that it is unrealistic to expect children to suddenly become responsible, participating adult citizens at the age of 16, 17, 18 or 21 years without prior exposure to the skills and responsibilities involved. An understanding of democratic participation, together with the confidence and competence to participate can only be acquired gradually through practice; it cannot be taught as an abstraction. We have noted above that participation of children should be viewed within the context of other social participants, namely the adults in the family and the community who are usually the custodians of the rules of the participation game and monitor not only chronological age, but also what is seen to be maturity. Parents and adults in general have absolute power over their children until they come of age. As Archard notes 'It is only in becoming adults themselves that children
qualify for enjoyment of any of these freedoms and rights', until then they are deemed to be immature (Archard, 1993: 6).
Data on children's participation in Zimbabwe Sources of data from Zimbabwe on children's participation are next to none. The most recent source is the work by Aneas Chigwedere (1996), which although primarily written for the educationist, at least offers some understanding on the subject of children's participation with reference to the Zimbabwean society. Another source has been the work by Michael Gelfand (1987). Nevertheless, these discussions do not offer any data that might be useful for monitoring Articles 12-15 of the Convention. Children's participation is not a well developed subject either in Zimbabwe or globally. It is a subject that is beginning to emerge as a result of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as through program experiences emanating from people who work with children in especially difficult circumstances, notably in Brazil, India and Senegal/West Africa, where children in difficulty have set up movements to articulate and defend their rights. In the data from Zimbabwe, children's participation is not addressed as a subject in its own right. It can only be understood in the relationships (ideal and real) the children have with adults, including their own parents. Thus the Case Study Team did not encounter any data that might be used to monitor children's rights to participate in Zimbabwean society, and we recommend that this topic should be promoted as the subject of national debate.
Convention on the Rights of the Child Excerpts from The Rights of the Child, Fact Sheet #10, UN Centre for Human Rights: "The Convention on the Rights of the Child ... is the most complete statement of children's rights ever made and is the first to give these rights the force of international law.... The Convention ... has the same meaning for peoples in all parts of the world. This was made possible in long negotiations, where representatives of countries with different social and economic systems and various cultural, ethical and religious approaches to life worked with nongovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies to fashion a set of common values and aims, valid everywhere.... Encompassing the whole range of human rights -- civil, political, economic, social and cultural -the Convention recognizes that the enjoyment of one right cannot be separated from the enjoyment of others. It demonstrates that the freedom a child needs to develop his or her intellectual, moral and spiritual capacities calls ... for a healthy and safe environment, access to medical care, and minimum standards of food, clothing and shelter....
Each new generation offers humanity another chance. If we provide for the survival and development of children everywhere, protect them from harm and exploitation and enable them to participate in decisions directly affecting their lives, we will surely build the foundation of the just society we all want and that children deserve."
Unofficial Summary by UNICEF Article 1 Definition of a child A child is recognized as a person under 18, unless national laws recognize the age of majority earlier. Article 2 Non-discrimination All rights apply to all children without exception. It is the State's obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination and to take positive action to promote their rights. Article 3 Best interests of the child All actions concerning the child shall take full account of his or her best interests. The State shall provide the child with adequate care when parents, or others charged with that responsibility, fail to do so. Article 4 Implementation of rights The State must do all it can to implement the rights contained in the Convention. Article 5 Parental guidance and the child's evolving capacities The State must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and the extended family to provide guidance for the child which is appropriate to her or his evolving capacities.
Article 6 Survival and development Every child has the inherent right to life, and the State has an obligation to ensure the child's survival and development. Article 7 Name and nationality The child has the right to a name at birth. The child also has the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, to know his or her parents and be cared for by them. Article 8 Preservation of identity The State has an obligation to protect, and if necessary, re-establish basic aspects of the child's identity. This includes name, nationality and family ties. Article 9 Separation from parents The child has a right to live with his or her parents unless this is deemed to be incompatible with the child's best interests. The child also has the right to maintain contact with both parents if separated from one or both. Article 10 Family reunification Children and their parents have the right to leave any country and to enter their own for purposes of reunion or the maintenance of the child-parent relationship. Article 11 Illicit transfer and non-return The State has an obligation to prevent and remedy the kidnapping or retention of children abroad by a parent or third party. Article 12 The child's opinion The child has the right to express his or her opinion freely and to have that opinion taken into account in any matter or procedure affecting the child. Article 13 Freedom of expression
The child has the right to express his or her views, obtain information, make ideas or information known, regardless of frontiers. Article 14 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion The State shall respect the child's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject to appropriate parental guidance. Article 15 Freedom of association Children have a right to meet with others, and to join or form associations. Article 16 Protection of privacy Children have the right to protection from interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence, and from libel or slander. Article 17 Access to appropriate information The State shall ensure the accessibility to children of information and material from a diversity of sources, and it shall encourage the mass media to disseminate information which is of social and cultural benefit to the child, and take steps to protect him or her from harmful materials. Article 18 Parental responsibilities Parents have joint primary responsibility for raising the child, and the State shall support them in this. The State shall provide appropriate assistance to parents in child-raising. Article 19 Protection from abuse and neglect The State shall protect the child from all forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for the care of the child and establish appropriate social programmes for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victims. Article 20 Protection of a child without family The State is obliged to provide special protection for a child deprived of the family environment and to ensure that appropriate alternative family care or institutional placement is available in such cases. Efforts to meet this obligation shall pay due regard to the child's cultural background.
Article 21 Adoption In countries where adoption is recognized and/or allowed, it shall only be carried out in the best interests of the child, and then only with the authorization of competent authorities, and safeguards for the child. Article 22 Refugee children Special protection shall be granted to a refugee child or to a child seeking refugee status. It is the State's obligation to co-operate with competent organizations which provide such protection and assistance. Article 23 Disabled children A disabled child has the right to special care, education and training to help him or her enjoy a full and decent life in dignity and achieve the greatest degree of self-reliance and social integration possible. Article 24 Health and health services The child has a right to the highest standard of health and medical care attainable. States shall place special emphasis on the provision of primary and preventive health care, public health education and the reduction of infant mortality. They shall encourage international cooperation in this regard and strive to see that no child is deprived of access to effective health services. Article 25 Periodic review of placement A child who is placed by the State for reasons of care, protection or treatment is entitled to have that placement evaluated regularly. Article 26 Social security The child has the right to benefit from social security including social insurance. Article 27 Standard of living Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Parents have the primary responsibility to ensure that the child
has an adequate standard of living. The State's duty is to ensure that this responsibility can be fulfilled, and is. State responsibility can include material assistance to parents and their children. Article 28 Education The child has a right to education, and the State's duty is to ensure that primary education is free and compulsory, to encourage different forms of secondary education accessible to every child and to make higher education available to all on the basis of capacity. School discipline shall be consistent with the child's rights and dignity. The State shall engage in international co-operation to implement this right. Article 29 Aims of education Education shall aim at developing the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent. Education shall prepare the child for an active adult life in a free society and foster respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, and for the cultural background and values of others. Article 30 Children of minorities or indigenous populations Children of minority communities and indigenous populations have the right to enjoy their own culture and to practice their own religion and language. Article 31 Leisure, recreation and cultural activities The child has the right to leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities. Article 32 Child labour The child has the right to be protected from work that threatens his or her health, education or development. The State shall set minimum ages for employment and regulate working conditions. Article 33 Drug abuse Children have the right to protection from the use of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, and from being involved in their production or distribution. Article 34 Sexual exploitation
The State shall protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography. Article 35 Sale, trafficking and abduction It is the State's obligation to make every effort to prevent the sale, trafficking and abduction of children. Article 36 Other forms of exploitation The child has the right to protection from all forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child's welfare not covered in articles 32, 33, 34 and 35. Article 37 Torture and deprivation of liberty No child shall be subjected to torture, cruel treatment or punishment, unlawful arrest or deprivation of liberty. Both capital punishment and life imprisonment without the possibility of release are prohibited for offences committed by persons below 18 years. Any child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interests not to do so. A child who is detained shall have legal and other assistance as well as contact with the family. Article 38 Armed conflicts States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that children under 15 years of age have no direct part in hostilities. No child below 15 shall be recruited into the armed forces. States shall also ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict as described in relevant international Article 39 Rehabilitative care The State has an obligation to ensure that child victims of armed conflicts, torture, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation receive appropriate treatment for their recovery and social reintegration. Article 40 Administration of juvenile justice A child in conflict with the law has the right to treatment which promotes the child's sense of dignity and worth, takes the child's age into account and aims at his or her reintegration into
society. The child is entitled to basic guarantees as well as legal or other assistance for his or her defence. Judicial proceedings and institutional placements shall be avoided wherever possible. Article 41 Respect for higher standards Wherever standards set in applicable national and international law relevant to the rights of the child that are higher than those in this Convention, the higher standard shall always apply.
Promotion of children’s rights and prevention of child maltreatment Richard Reading, Susan Bissell, Jeff rey Goldhagen, Judith Harwin, Judith Masson, Sian Moynihan, Nigel Parton, Marta Santos Pais, June Thoburn, Elspeth Webb In medical literature, child maltreatment is considered as a public-health problem or an issue of harm to individuals, but less frequently as a violation of children’s human rights. Public-health approaches emphasise monitoring, prevention, cost-eff ectiveness, and population strategies; protective approaches concentrate on the legal and professional response to cases of maltreatment. Both approaches have been associated with improvement in outcomes for children, yet maltreatment remains a major global problem. We describe how children’s rights provide a diff erent perspective on child maltreatment, and contribute to both public-health and protective responses. Children’s rights as laid out in the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) provide a framework for understanding child maltreatment as part of a range of violence, harm, and exploitation of children at the individual, institutional, and societal levels. Rights of participation and provision are as important as rights of protection. The principles embodied in the UNCRC are concordant with those of medical ethics. The greatest strength of an approach based on the UNCRC is that it provides a legal instrument for implementing policy, accountability, and social justice, all of which enhance public-health responses. Incorporation of the principles of the UNCRC into laws, research, public-health policy, and professional training and practice will result in further progress in the area of child maltreatment. Introduction Over the past half century since Kempe1 described the battered child syndrome, the response of child-protection systems has been on the basis of identifi cation,
assessment, and intervention to treat and prevent further harm, similar to the conventional medical model of diagnosis and treatment. This approach has achieved considerable progress but inevitably does not prevent the occurrence of child maltreatment in the fi rst place. The previous three papers in this Series, describing the burden,2 recognition,3 and eff ect of interventions4 on child maltreatment, have argued that further progress requires increased emphasis on prevention and the underlying causes, in other words a public-health approach.5,6 This paper describes how a consideration of children‘s rights strengthens both public-health and child-protective approaches. Children‘s rights are delineated in the principles and articles of the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC). Crucially, these include rights of provision of services and of participation in society, besides rights of protection and care. The articles of the UNCRC and the distinction between these diff erent types of right are described in panel 1. The UN committee on the rights of the child argues that all three types of right are inseparable and should be implemented as a package rather than selectively.9 The UNCRC obtains its power to infl uence policy and enforce accountability by being a legal instrument rather than a moral code, even though it is based on ethical and moral foundations. These are important principles that a rights-based approach brings to public-health and protective strategies to reduce the prevalence and consequences of child maltreatment. In common with the other papers in this Series, much of the evidence and literature we rely on relates to high-income countries, although maltreatment of children takes place in all societies and most evidence suggests that it is more common in low-income and middle-income countries.10–13 We have restricted most of our discussion tohigh-income countries, which we recognise is a limitation both of this paper and the Series. Concentration on high-income countries tends to focus attention on the types of maltreatment that are more prevalent in these countries and might not help poorer countries when they come to assess evidence for their own prevention and intervention programmes.14,15 However, consideration of the obligations that the UNCRC imposes is necessary for the child-maltreatment policy of any country. In this paper we begin by describing the social and legal contexts in which society responds to child
maltreatment. We then describe what a rights-based approach to child maltreatment entails, and discuss its strengths and weaknesses. We explain how the UNCRC off ers a framework for eff ective legislation and policy, and provides new insights for professional responsibilities, ethical codes, and training. The objectives and approach of rights-based and public-health approaches complement each other and, when combined, off er a legal and moral force to a coherent scientifi cally based strategy. Social and legal context Defi nitions of maltreatment How child maltreatment is defi ned is central to how it is recognised, managed, and prevented. Defi nitions range from those that focus on the acts and harm caused to children by parents or carers, such as the defi nitions of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,2,16 to those that defi ne abuse relative to the social and cultural environment, such as Kempe‘s: ―parents unable to cope at a level assumed to be reasonable by the society in which they reside‖.17 In both these defi nitions, maltreatment is defi ned mainly in terms of physical, emotional, and sexual violence, or neglect perpetrated by individual adults, usually parents or those close to the child. Professional and societal responses have been framed in terms of protection of the child from adult perpetrators. These approaches do not permit collective harm and exploitation, for instance that caused by institutions, harmful policies and laws, and avoidable war, confl ict, failure of governance, or social disruption.18 An attempt at a more comprehensive defi nition was made by Gil19 more than 30 years ago: ―the infl icted gaps or defi cits between circumstances of living which would facilitate the optimum development of children, to which they should be entitled, and to their actual circumstances, irrespective of the sources or agents of the defi cit‖. Thus any act of commission or omission by individuals, institutions, government, or society, together with their resultant conditions, which ―deprive children of equal rights and liberties, and/or interfere with their optimal development constitute, by defi nition, abusive or neglectful acts or conditions‖.19 This type of defi nition would be the foundation for an approach that subsumed maltreatment as an aspect of overall child wellbeing. Its disadvantage is that it becomes too broad and encompassing, making epidemiological measurement impossible, blurring the focus of possible targets, and hence risking the success of
any intervention based on the defi nition. The defi nition chosen for the UN‘s study on violence against children10 follows article 19 of the UNCRC that includes ―all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse‖. It bases the understanding of physical violence on the defi nition in the world report on violence and health: ―the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child‘s health, survival, development or dignity‖.5 WHO pointed out that the inclusion of the abuse of power broadened the defi nition to include acts of commission or omission that resulted in emotional harm and allowed social, political, and economic violence to be incorporated;5 the use of the term exploitation in the UNCRC broadens the scope of maltreatment from simply violence and yet still off ers the possibility of operationalising the defi nition to enable epidemiological measurement and monitoring. All such defi nitions include a compromise. On the one hand, a precise and limited defi nition, which focuses on intentional harm, is necessary for epidemiological and public-health monitoring and to engage constructively with governments and legislators over specifi c policy responses to maltreatment. On the other hand, a children‘s-rights-based defi nition will always push these boundaries to encompass social and environmental harm because from a child‘s perspective these can be indistinguishable. Kydd18 has described maltreatment in terms of abandonment and argues that this defi nition includes societal, economic, and professional abandonment, besides the abandonment of nurture, protection, and care within families. Attitudes to children’s rights and maltreatment Each country and region has tensions between children‘s rights and other competing values, all of which will have implications for the wellbeing of children. For example, the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child20 states in article 31 that ―children have a responsibility to work for the cohesion of the family, to respect parents and elders at all times, and to assist them in cases of need‖, indicating the survival needs of communities living in environmentally harsh conditions with scarce resources.21 This cultural relativism has relevance for
attitudes towards child maltreatment. Some countries might still be trying to understand what it means to value a child as an individual no matter what the sex is; others see aspects of physical discipline, such as shaking, to be acceptable.22,23 There are cogent arguments for any defi nition and response to child maltreatment to respect cultural values and attitudes,24,25 yet these could classify female genital mutilation as non-abusive since, in the context of those
Key messages• Child maltreatment is both a human-rights violation and a global public-health problem, and incurs huge costs for both individuals and society • Ambivalence in the public and professional responses to child maltreatment indicates the status of children in society • An appropriate framework for consideration of child maltreatment is the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) • A child-rights-based approach to maltreatment requires implementation of rights for provision and participation in society and the right of protection • A rights-based approach is concordant with the core principles of medical ethics • A rights-based approach enhances epidemiological and public-health responses and does not detract from consideration of the social determinants and populationbased interventions for maltreatment • The strength of a rights-based approach is that human rights are legal obligations that underpin mechanisms to hold governments accountable. Use of the UNCRC in this way would result in a more eff ective public-health response to child maltreatment
No laws in India to protect children below 6 years
Absence of government's commitment in India to young children’s rights has led to deficit childhood and jeopardised the development of their fullest potential, says NCPCR chairperson. Bangalore: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Shantha Sinha on Wednesday stressed the need for a legal instrument to provide all essential services that enable children access to health, nutrition, care and protection.
Speaking at the 36th foundation day lecture on `Deficit Childhood -- Implications for India's Democracy', at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), she observed that a large number of children, especially those below six years, are left out of the purview of laws. "Thus there is no law protecting children's rights in the 0-6 age group at present," she said. Though there are certain legal instruments derived from the labour legislations pertaining to the factories Act, mines and plantation, and construction workers, in reality they have remained on paper. But the Right To Education (RTE) Bill, which stresses upon providing free and compulsory education for children, makes education a fundamental right for each and every child in the 6-to-14 years category. "It's a great law. Education can prevent children from getting caught in various activities including trafficking," she said. After more than 60 years of Independence, Sinha said that children's rights as the state's obligation are yet to become a whole-hearted commitment. "There's deficit childhood in every respect, harming the development of children's fullest potential," the chairperson said. However, she said there are gainful achievements in some areas in the country with some states, districts and blocks doing better than the rest on the child development indicators of health, nutrition, education and other entitlements. These continue to be abysmally poor in some pockets for certain class of children.
"Deficit childhood is in a sense absence or failure of the state. This can result in a child's expulsion from the state and market. Also, deficit childhood shows the state's failure to reach out to every child and not to the incapacity of the child to access her entitlements," she added.
Article Protecting the child
WE spoke to Dr Farah Nini Dusuki a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University Malaya, who has a PhD in Child Law. She is also a legal consultant with UNICEF, vice-president of the Malaysian Association of Child Protection (MACP) and a member of the National Advisory and Consultative Council on Child Protection chaired by Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. What measures are being taken to create child abuse awareness among children? ―If you are referring to programmes to enhance children‘s awareness, there is none. However, Suhakam carries out periodic workshops with children.
The NGOs and PS the Children, for example, have a manual on child safety and they try to educate children, especially pre-schoolers, on ―safe touches‖. This, however, touches more on child sexual abuse as opposed to other types of child abuse.
MACP has conducted awareness workshops for people who come into contact with children, such as teachers (both in mainstream and religious schools), school counsellors, medical practitioners and medical social workers. These people must be taught how to protect children as they are the ―voice‖ of the children. MACP has also been raising awareness on specific child abuse issues such as the Shaken Baby Syndrome. It also encourages babysitters to seek help when the task becomes overwhelming. MACP‘s role is to provide multi-disciplinary training for professionals and agencies who come into contact with children.‖ Without awareness, would a child know if he/she is being abused? ―A child, for instance, may not know that he/she is being sexually abused. Children are more vulnerable when the abusers are known to them and are people they trust. This is why they need to be taught to recognise ―safe and appropriate‖ touches. More importantly, children need to be educated on their rights.‖ What are the factors behind child abuse? ―It depends on the type of abuse. Physical abuse, for instance, may take place due to poor parenting skills or high levels of stress. A parent or a caretaker may be unable to deal with a baby who cries non-stop.
There have been a few cases of heartless adults who enjoy abusing children. Sexual abuse is the work of sick individuals. The only way to prevent this type of abuse is to allow no opportunity for it to take place. That is why it is important to teach children about their bodies and how to retaliate when someone violates them. Emotional abuse, on the other hand, is more complex as the signs are not apparent. Such abuse includes verbal abuse. Whatever the nature of abuse, the only way to stop it is to change the way society perceives children. Children are persons in their own rights. They are not merely objects. For instance, we don‘t hit another adult but many parents hit their children as they regard their children as their possession. Some parents say they beat their children to discipline them but research has proven that this is ineffective. You might get the desired effect immediately but the negative effects last a long time. It teaches children that it is okay to hurt other people. There is a fine line between discipline and abuse and it is so easy to cross it.‖ What should a child do should he/she be abused? ―Inform a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, counselor or religious figure. The adult should immediately act upon the complaint no matter how minor it is.‖ Are there any laws to protect children against abuse in Malaysia? ―Malaysia ratified the United Nation‘s Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995 (CRC) and by doing so has
agreed to place children‘s rights as paramount consideration. The CRC is based on four main factors — survival, protection, development and participation. Upon signing the CRC, Malaysia passed the Child Act 2001 which came into force on Aug 1, 2002. The Child Act 2001 does not aim to punish wrongdoers per se but focuses more on how to prevent possible acts of abuse and manage cases which reach the attention of the authorities. One preventive measure under The Child Act makes it mandatory for medical practitioners and family members to inform the authorities if they suspect that a child has been physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The Child Act provides 17 categories of children in need of protection. Protectors (gazetted social welfare officers) who come upon any of these categories are empowered to remove the child from such risk and place him/her in a safe environment. The protectors must also supervise other children from the same household to prevent similar incidents. Another important provision to prevent child neglect is Section 31 which provides that a parent or guardian who leaves a child without reasonable supervision may, upon conviction, be jailed for up to two years or fined up to RM5,000 or both.‖ What punishments are in store for child abusers? ―The Child Act provides for a number of offences but if the abuse is severe, the Penal Code which carries harsher penalties, is used. For example, anyone committing any form of child abuse may be sentenced up to 20 years‘ imprisonment and a fine but if the abuse involves incest, then the perpetrator may be charged under the Penal Code which carries a maximum imprisonment of 30 years or fine or whipping not less than 10 lashes.‖ Do you think a child should forgive an abusive parent? ―Yes, it is the only way to find peace within oneself. But this may not be easy and the child has to undergo counselling or psychiatric help to overcome the trauma.‖ What can we do to help those who are abused? ―There are a number of NGOs which provide support for the abused — Women‘s Aid Organisation and PS the Children, to name a few. I am sure they would welcome volunteers. However, it is more important to ensure that professional counselling is given to the victims. Counselling should also be given to the offender to ensure that he/she does not repeat the offence.‖ What can society do to combat child abuse? ―Respect children as individuals with rights. If adults understand and accept this, abuse against children may decrease. They must also be vigilant. The phrase ―jangan jaga tepi kain orang‖ does not augur well for child protection. If you suspect anything amiss, ask what is happening. Lastly, be supportive. Neighbours should look out for the children in their neighbourhood. The recent death of the three-year-old who was kicked, stomped and brutally beaten could have been prevented had family members and neighbours raised the alarm.‖
Read more: Protecting the child http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/Protectingthechild/Article#ixzz0wkuAkf2J
Protecting Our Children, Protecting Our Future Fall 1996 Human Rights Magazine By Andrea Passalacqua All American citizens are guaranteed some inalienable, absolutely indisputable rights. These rights will hold up in any court in the United States and prove more powerful than any competing arguments. They are the ones that offer many Americans a secure peace of mind and have allowed the U.S. to become the most efficient democracy in the world. These rights grant the justice system a certain sense of credibility and give the judicial branch a basic ground to start from. But for children, these same rights are virtually nonexistent. "Illegal aliens have greater rights than American-born children," said Joel Tenenbaum, a family practitioner in Wilmington, Del. "That is just plain unacceptable." Tenenbaum spoke about the civil and criminal rights of children. His arguments were part of the program, "Protecting Our Children, Protecting Our Future: Who Speaks for the Child?" cosponsored by the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and the Section of Family Law. The seminar was one of many presented in the ABA's 1996 Annual Meeting under the umbrella slogan, "Freedom, Justice, Liberty: Without Lawyers They're Only Words." In Tenenbaum's eyes, children are currently nothing more than the "disenfranchised class of U.S. citizens who have no standing, no rights, who have nothing but their birth right." In an effort to support this theory, Tenenbaum described a story of injustice that was exemplary of his arguments. "Can you imagine a situation of a 15-year-old child making a prank phone call, being arrested, his parents not being told he was arrested?" he said. "No attorney. No trial. And imprisoned until he was 21 because he made a prank phone call. "You say I'm ridiculous. You say I'm being melodramatic. Twenty-nine years ago, that's exactly what happened."
The situation involving the 15-year-old prank caller was the case in which the Supreme Court first recognized that children had rights in a criminal proceeding. The rights to due process are not guaranteed for children in the constitution. Tenenbaum emphasized that much progress has been made in criminal rights for children over the past 29 years, while civil rights for children are still almost nonexistent. In addition to problems with constitutional rights for children, the panel, moderated by San Francisco attorney Kathi Pugh, discussed the need for change in international rights for minors and the rights of children with special needs. Pugh is cochair of the IR&R Section's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Internationally, the United Nations is currently holding a convention to scrutinize the rights of children. If the UN's new laws are adopted, many Supreme Court decisions would have to be reconsidered, said University of Oklahoma Law School professor Robert Spector. For instance, the convention would require the court to go through different grounds for authorizing the death penalty for minors. Along with this, the new rules would cause a shift on limitations from the states. However, substantive rights would remain virtually untouched, Spector said. "I am beginning to see more and more proceedings that will allow children sufficient understanding to be able to present their views and to have those views adjudicated much in the same way that adults would present their views," he said. A similar sense of progress is being made in certain rights of children with disabilities in education, said Vanderbilt Law School associate professor Alex Hurder. But the changes already made don't at all signify perfection in this area. "I want to point with pride and view with alarm what s going on in special education," Hurder said. "First, I want to point with pride to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the American Disabilities Act. "I want to view with alarm some of the changes that are happening largely because of the anticipation of the IDEA by the federal judiciary and particularly an erosion of what the goals of education are for children with disabilities." The IDEA has been responsible for some major milestones in education for disabled children. This act first guaranteed that children with disabilities would be integrated into public education. It also allows parents of disabled children to negotiate their child's educational plan with the school system. Parents now have a level of judicial review over the decisions made by the school involving their children.
Most recently, the IDEA has developed individualized programs to achieve the goals of each child, including assigning the amount of time that should be spent on particular tasks and standardizing the criteria to move from one project to another. Hurder expressed concern at the idea that goals for many disabled children are being set at less than the standards for other children or even their own potential. Since disabled children's educational rights certainly differ from state to state and, unintentionally, from school to school, this sometimes makes it difficult to abide by both the constitution and the state's method of dealing with certain matters. In fact, this conflict arises in all areas of children's rights. There is a continuous dispute between the treatment of children as persons under the constitution and the state's policy in safeguarding children, said Texas Wesleyan Law School professor Gilbert Holmes. "The state's interest in protecting children includes an interest in promoting their economy," he said. "The conflicts between the state's protective interests and the economy of the children should be resolved by focusing on the one aspect that these two often warring positions have, and that is the goal of promoting children's autonomy." Part of the dilemma is caused by the possibility that society views children in much the same way that parents do, Holmes said. He added that this view is unrealistic considering the large difference in the number of children with which each party must deal. "We want to protect our children, and, at the same time, we know that overprotection does not cause the development of responsible adults," he said. "In addition, the legal system must apply doctrine and rules that apply to society as a whole, whereas parents merely have the problems of developing doctrine and rules for their own individual children." Despite such problems, the courts have made progress in granting children certain rights. For example, recent court cases involving condom distribution, curfew statutes and the ability of minors to seek an abortion have all been decided in favor of allowing children some level of autonomy. "An autonomous child is a contradiction in terms," Holmes said. "But in spite of this contradiction, the court continues to declare that children are autonomous." Part of the autonomy problem could be solved by making laws more limited to particular sectors of minors, Holmes said. "Curfew statutes should be more age specific," he said. "There is a significant difference between a 9-year-old and a 15-year-old, and having a blanket law that says all people under 17 years old must be at home after a certain hour does not address the development of autonomy." Holmes expanded on this idea, suggesting the possible use of a photo identification system organized through the school system to distinguish older minors from younger children.
While he didn't offer any potential solutions for mandatory drug testing, Holmes said that this area needs to be re-examined for the purpose of promoting children's autonomy. The current system revokes all rights from children since they have no voice in the matter whatsoever. But Spector offered an opinion that shows that many people believe children have all of the rights that they need and deserve. "All the talk of children's rights flounders on the dilemma that a 6 month old is never going to be an autonomous person and neither is a 4-year-old," he said. "And that children obtain a pass to these decision-making facilities as they get older and as they mature
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17. ^ "Respecting children's rights at home", Children and Families in Canada. Retrieved 2/23/08. 18. ^ (1997) "Children's rights in the Canadian context", Interchange. 8(1–2). Springer. 19. ^ "A-Z of Children's Rights", Children's Rights Information Network. Retrieved 2/23/08. 20. ^ Freeman, M. (2000) "The Future of Children's Rights," Children & Society. 14(4) p 277-93. 21. ^ "Children's Rights", Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2/23/08. 22. ^ Calkins, C.F. (1972) "Reviewed Work: Children's Rights: Toward the Liberation of the Child by Paul Adams", Peabody Journal of Education. 49(4). p. 327. 23. ^ "Children's Rights", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2/23/08. 24. ^ Brownlie, J. and Anderson, S. (2006) "'Beyond Anti-Smacking': Rethinking parent– child relations," Childhood. 13(4) p 479-498. 25. ^ Cutting, E. (1999) "Giving Parents a Voice: A Children's Rights Issue," Rightlines. 2 ERIC #ED428855. 26. ^ Brennan, S. and Noggle, R. (1997) "The Moral Status of Children: Children's Rights, Parent's Rights, and Family Justice," Social Theory and Practice. 23. 27. ^ Kaslow, FW (1990) Children who sue parents: A new form of family homicide? Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 16(2) p 151–163. 28. ^ "What is equal shared parenting?" Fathers Are Capable Too: Parenting Association. Retrieved 2/24/08. 29. ^ Starr, RH (1975) Children's Rights: Countering the Opposition. Paper presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association in Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 1975. ERIC ID# ED121416. 30. ^ DeLamater, J.D. (2003) Handbook of Social Psychology. Springer. p 150. 31. ^ Lansdown, G. (1994). "Children's rights," in B. Mayall (ed.) Children's childhood: Observed and experienced. London: The Falmer Press. (p 33-34). 32. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Rights", Amnesty International USA. Retrieved 2/24/08. 33. ^ Covell, K. and Howe, R.B. (2001) The Challenge of Children's Rights for Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p 158. 34. ^ Mason, M.A. (2005) "The U.S. and the international children's rights crusade: leader or laggard?" Journal of Social History. Summer. 35. ^ Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF. Retrieved 4/3/08. 36. ^ Convention on the Rights of the Child 37. ^ Arts, K, Popvoski, V, et al. (2006) International Criminal Accountability and the Rights of Children. "From Peace to Justice Series". London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-90-6704-227-7. 38. ^ "Children's Rights", Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 2/23/08. 39. ^ "Children's Rights Under the Constitution Discussed at the National Constitution Center," Retrieved 2/27/08. 40. ^ AAAA Position on Children's Rights in Adoption. Retrieved 2/27/08.
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"UGANDA: Child 'Night Commuters'". Amnesty International. "Sri Lankan Army Warns Children can be Targets". CRIN. Implementing Adolescent Reproductive Rights Through the Convention on the Rights of the Child". Center for Reproductive Rights. "Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan". Human Rights Watch. "Burundi: Former Child Soldiers Languish in Custody". Human Rights Watch. "Saudi Arabia: Follow U.N. Call to End Juvenile Death Penalty". Human Rights Watch. "United States: Thousands of Children Sentenced to Life without Parole". Human Rights Watch. "What Future: Street Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo". Human Rights Watch
CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS, LLC will work with children with disabilities and their families to interact with the child‘s educational team. Together, we will gather information, review the educational rights an regarding children, determine the child‘s strengths, weaknesses, present levels of achievement and any concerns child‘s social, emotional, physical, cognitive, adaptive and/or communicative development. This process will be helpful in determining what, if any, evaluations will be needed to investigate any possible disabilities. A list of p may be suggested in order to receive appropriate evaluations if needed.
OUR GOAL is to inform parents of the steps in the special education process and encourage them to familiarize with the procedural safeguards, which are rights that are provided to parents and school districts in the special ed process.
“ THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS is most effective when parents and school personnel are well-inform able to work together. If problems occur that cannot be settled easily, procedures are available to resolve them ” Parent Information Center
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