Child Rights, they cannot be expressed in a better way than in the above quote. Listening to the word “CHILD”, what is the first thing that occurs in one's mind ??? To me it means an innocent, little being who needs to be loved, nurtured, taken care of and protected. But talking about the legal definition of a child , it generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. “ […] a child is any human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. The idea through this definition and all the texts concerning child welfare, is that a child is a human being with rights and dignity.
The thought behind: What characterizes a child, it is his youth and vulnerability. Indeed, the child is growing into a future adult, who has no means to protect himself. So, as we talk of children, we must at first, safeguard their interests and to do so we must clearly understand what we call ‘Child Rights’. Child Rights are human rights specifically adapted to the child because they take into account his fragility and age-appropriate needs. Child Rights take into account the necessity of the development of the child. The children have the right to live and to develop suitably and intellectually. Child Rights plan to satisfy the essential needs for a good development of the child such as access to necessary care and education. Child Rights consider the vulnerable character of the child. They imply the necessity to protect them. It means to grant a particular assistance to them and to give them protection according to their age and level of maturity. So, the children under all circumstances have to be helped and supported in all possible ways and this was the thought that lead to the recognition of Child Rights of the children.
The origin: Children’s rights were recognized after the First World War, with the adoption of the Declaration of Geneva, in 1924. “Humanity has to do its best for the child.”- declaration of Geneva said.
The process of the recognition of the child’s rights continued. Thanks to the UN that initiated the adoption of the Declaration of the Children’s Rights in 1959. The recognition of the child’s interest and his rights became real on 20 November 1989 with the adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which is the first international legally binding text recognizing all the fundamental rights of the child.
Child Rights in a broader way are classified into four basic rights.
Right to Survival
Every single child has full right to attain life, come into this world, to get proper food and nutrition. All children have the right to a legally registered name and nationality. Child rights recognize fundamental guarantees to all human beings; the right to life.
Right to Development
The second right is the Right to Development. Once the child enters this beautiful world, he needs care to grow. Every child needs to be entitled to individual rights; the right to live with his/her parents, the right to get proper care and protection from them. No child should be separated from the parents unless it is for his own good in case the parent is mistreating or neglecting him. He needs education, leisure, recreation and cultural activities for mental development. His rights include the economic, social and cultural rights, so children must be entitled to the right to education, the right to a decent standard of living, etc. They should have the right to good quality health care, to clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment so that they stay healthy. If children have the right to be educated, then they have the obligation to learn as much as their capabilities allow, and where possible share their knowledge and experience with others.
Right to Protection
In addition to the above two rights, there is a third right- the Right to Protection. At every stage of his life till the child attains maturity, he needs to be protected from exploitation, abuse and neglect that may prevail in or out of his family. All children deserve the right to dignity through the protection of physical and mental integrity. They must be protected against slavery, drug addiction, torture, sexual abuse, early marriages, beggary and bad treatments, etc.
Right to Participation
The child also needs the Right to Participation. The child must feel free to express his opinion. He should have the right to say what he thinks should happen when adults are making decisions that affect him and must have his opinions taken into account. Child should have the right to exchange information and share his thoughts as long as it is not damaging to the child or anyone else and also follow his religion. Child Rights include collective rights; children who come into a country as refugees should have the same rights as children born in that country. Children who have any kind of disability should get special care and support so that they can lead full and independent lives. Rights of minority children must be given to them. If children have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, then they will also have the obligation to respect the thoughts and principles of others.
Child rights are constituted by essential human rights with a view to protect the child as a human being. If all children have the right to a full life, then they will also lend help to the needy and disadvantaged.