IMPORTANT NEWS: Next year the Government will be letting the United Nations Committee know how they are doing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Office of the Children’s Rights Director will be doing a lot of work in this area and will be seeking views from young people about this.
This Document was written by the Office of the Children’s Rights Director. It explains :-
1 What the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is and answers some common questions.
2 Tells you what YOUR rights are under the Convention.
3 Tells you what the Children’s Rights Director will do.
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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC) is an agreement by the governments of the world saying what rights children should have. It covers rights on just about everything and applies to everyone under 18 years of age.
Did the UK sign it?
Yes. Nearly every country in the world has signed up and agreed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Do adults have to do what it says?
They should always try to, but the law does not say that they must.
What use is it then?
The Convention is important because it acts as a guide on how children should be treated. It also helps that each country that has signed it judges people from other countries on how well they treat children.
Like most people, staff, social workers and teachers would like to think that they do a good job in working with children. However, inspectors and others could say that they are not, if they don't respect the rights you have.
Can you tell me some of my rights?
Not all of the rights within the Convention will apply to you all of the time. But we've put together those that we think could affect some of you.
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• You have the right not to be picked on or treated unfairly just because you are different from other children. For example, if you are black, or you're a girl or disabled; if you follow a different religion, or simply because you happen to be in care. You should be treated the same as other children.
• When decisions are made, you have the right to say what you think and expect that adults will listen, and do what is best for you.
• You have the right to information that is about you, or that is about the home or school you are living in or any services that you might need to use.
• You have the right to your own family name. This is a basic part of your identity, and should not be changed unless you or your parents want to change it.
• You have the right to think and believe what you like, and choose your own religion, but your parents should guide you. Also, if you have a different nationality then you have the right to enjoy your own culture and use your own language.
• You have the right to privacy such as keeping your own personal diary that other people shouldn't read, or staff not entering your bedroom without knocking and waiting for your reply.
• If you are disabled, you have the right to special care and education to help you live a full and independent life.
• You have the right to special protection if you're a refugee and have been forced to leave your country because of danger.
• As you grow up, those looking after you should respect your ability to understand, and encourage you to do things for yourself.
• You have the right to keep in touch with your parents if, for any reason, you are separated from either of them.
• No one has the right to hurt you. Adults must protect you from violence, abuse or neglect, and if you do get hurt, they must do something about it.
• If, for any reason, your family are unable to bring you up, you have the right to special care - which could mean being adopted, fostered, or living in a children's home. If you're adopted or 'in care', your wishes and needs should be put first - not your parents' or any other adult's. If you're 'in care', others must check regularly to make sure that you're being treated properly.
• You have the right to enough to eat, adequate clothes, and a roof over your head. If whoever looks after you can't afford these, the government should help them.
• You have the right to education.
• You have the right not to be punished in any way that makes you look stupid or small.
• You have the right not be made to do harmful work. Work should not stop you from learning, being healthy, or growing up. There are minimum ages for when children can work, and laws to make sure that you're not working in bad conditions.
• You have the right not to be sexually exploited or abused. No one has the right to do things to your body. Those looking after you, whether parents, staff or teachers, must keep you safe from other adults who may try to sexually harm you in some way. If you're worried about this you should always try to tell an adult you can trust.
• You have the right to meet other people and join or set up your own groups, as long as this doesn't interfere with other people's rights.
• You have the right to grow up healthy, which means getting proper healthcare and information to help you stay healthy.
• You have the right to play, and to relax by doing things like sport, music, drama and art.
• You have the right to be protected from drugs - you shouldn't be forced to take them, make them, or deal them and those looking after you should protect you from other adults who may try to get you into drugs.
• If you are accused of doing something wrong, you have the right to be treated with respect and have a fair hearing.
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• YOUR RIGHT to privacy, by not asking you to tell us about anything you don't want to
• YOUR RIGHT to confidentiality, by not telling anyone else who it was that told us something, unless it is to help to keep you or other children safe
• YOUR RIGHT to information, by giving you booklets and putting details on the internet that explain what we do
• YOUR RIGHT to complain, by asking you to tell us if we do or say anything that upsets you, or you are not happy about, and passing it on to the right person to get it sorted out
• YOUR RIGHT to have your say, by inviting you to give your views, and asking inspectors who visit your home, school or service to try not to do anything that could affect you without first asking you what you think