Do children have rights?
Of course! Rights are things that every child in the world should be able to do or have. The most basic rights are Food, Clothing, Shelter and Education. This means that the adults who are responsible for you must provide food for you to eat, clothes for you to wear, a place for you to live, and the opportunity for you to go to school. There is an organization which is committed to maintaining peace among nations, and looks out for the human rights of the people in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago is part of this organization, which is called the United Nations. The United Nations created a list which provides rules and regulations that govern the way children around the world are to be treated, and they call it: The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This document provides the rules and guidelines associated with the treatment of children around the world. The Convention says that children should not be hurt in any way, and that the Government and your caretakers must protect you.
Most of the Governments in the world agreed to follow this list.
My Rights! All children have the right to:
- Be heard - You have the right to express yourself by speaking, writing or even drawing!
- A high standard of living - You should be able to go to the doctor and have medicine, have clean water to drink, healthy food to eat, and a safe environment to live in.
- Be protected from harm - You should be protected from things like hurt, abuse, drugs, kidnapping, neglect and child labour. You should be treated in a way that is not dangerous for you.
- Be proud of his/her culture of beliefs - This means that no matter what race or religion you are, you should be able to express who you are and what you believe in openly, without fear or ridicule or rejection from others.
- Education - You are supposed to be given the opportunity to attend school and learn.
- Play and rest - Life is not all about going to school and doing work. You also have the right to play games and have fun, and to get enough rest to remain healthy.
- To live with parents unless it is harmful - You should be able to live with your parents once it is safe for you to do so. This means that no one should take you away from them unless it is dangerous for you to stay.
Adults should do what is best for you. The government and your parents are responsible for taking care of you and respecting your rights.
A responsibility is a duty that is required of a person. Much in the same way that the Government and adults have a duty to respect our rights, we have a responsibility to respect the rights of others as well. Here is what the list says that you should do:
- Listen to and respect others - You have the right to be heard, but you also have the responsibility to listen to others and to respect their opinion.
- Take good care of yourself and others - You have the right to good healthcare and to be taken care of, but you also have the responsibility to take good care of yourself and others. You have to be careful and not do things that would damage you. E.g. Using drugs
- Respect your teachers - Your teachers are supposed to teach you, but you have the responsibility of respecting and listening to them as well.
- Accept and respect others - You should accept and respect others even if they are of a different race, religion or culture- the same way you have the right to be treated by those from whom you are different.
- Keep your home and environment clean and tidy - You have the right to be provided with a safe place to live in, but it is also your responsibility to keep your surroundings clean and tidy.
Where can I go?
If you think that your rights are being violated, there are places that you can turn to for help:
Police Service: 999
National Family Services: 625-0439
Families in Action: 628-2333
Student Support Services: 624-6203 or625-7935
Child Line: 800-4321 or 131