Children are completely dependent on adult care, placing them in a vulnerable situation for the start of life. Providing a layer of protection is a set of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights to which all children are entitled. These rights are enshrined in international law. As a parent, it is important that you are fully up to speed with the rights of your child. Familiarising yourself with these rights can ensure that the child grows up with everything that they need to survive and thrive, allowing them to reach their full potential.
Children are entitled to a broad range of rights. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, ratified by 196 countries (all except the United States), stipulates the following rights as the bare minimum of what every child needs for healthy development:
- The right to life – Every child has the right to be alive.
- The right to their own name and identity – All children have the right to be officially recognised and have their existence acknowledged by their government
- The right to health, food, water and environment – Children have the right to healthcare, clean water, healthy food and a safe environment to live in.
- The right to education – Every child should have access to free primary education and the opportunity to attend secondary and higher education.
- The right to be raised by parents within a family or cultural grouping – Children must not be separated from their family unless they are not being looked after properly.
- The right to have a relationship with both parents – This is the case even in the event that the parents are separated.
- The right to express opinions – All children should be free to say what they think and to have their views heard and acted upon when appropriate.
- The right to be free from abuse, exploitation and discrimination – No child should be used against their will or treated unfairly for any reason
- The right to privacy – Children must have their personal information shared unlawfully.
What to Do If You Fear the Rights of Your Child Are Not Being Respected
If you fear that the rights of your child are not being respected in any way, or you are unclear regarding how their rights should be exercised, it is prudent to get in touch with a reputable family law attorney to clarify matters and get peace of mind. Parents are required by law to ensure that their children have access to these rights and can face prosecution if they are found not to be doing so.
What to Do If Your Child Has Broken the Law
Just like adults, children who break the law are entitled to legal aid and representation. Prison should be considered a last resort and corporal punishment is forbidden under any circumstances. Prime among the things you should do if you feel like these rights are not being adhered to is to seek legal advice from a criminal attorney or human rights lawyer.