Children all over the world face life-threatening conditions, whether in health-care systems, in workplace environments or at school. But they are not left alone to suffer -- children's rights activists work to protect the legal and societal interests of children. For example, activist Jordan Riak works to remove corporal punishment from educational systems. Learning more about the roles and accomplishments of children's rights activists allows you to aid in creating a quality existence for children everywhere.
Problems Facing Children
Many issues face children today; the majority of these issues do not differ greatly from adult issues -- poverty, healthcare and education, for example. Because children cannot provide for their own care, however, they take on additional issues -- worker exploitation and child abuse, for example. Children’s rights activists work to ensure that children are given the care and legal standing they need to fight these problems.
Perhaps the most well-known international children’s rights organization is UNICEF. This organization drafted “The Convention on the Rights of the Child,” which sets out 54 different articles that provide for the safety and welfare of children under the age of 18. These articles create provisions for the survival, development, protection and participation of children. Under participation rights, for example, children are granted the governmental rights of freedom of opinion and to play an active role in society. As of 2011, Somalia and the United States are the only two countries in the world yet to ratify the convention, according to Global Issues.
Other than UNICEF, many organizations work to protect children’s rights. These include: Amnesty International, the International Labour Organization, the Human Rights Watch and Child Reach, to name a few. In addition to these international organizations, many small groups function within local or national communities. For example, the Alliance for Defence of Human Rights in Iran serves to protect children from governmental mistreatment.
Become an Activist
You only need two things to become a children’s rights activist: education and involvement. Educate yourself by learning about all of the troubles that face the world’s children. Pick one or two subjects and focus your research in these areas. Involve yourself with a local chapter of an organization that works to help protect children’s rights. Mail letters to your Congressional Representatives to express your desire for United States ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Global Issues: Rights of the Child; Anup Shah; September, 2003
- UNICEF: Convention on the Rights of the Child
- UNICEF: Rights Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- GC2000: International Children’s Rights Organizations
- Emory Law School: Human Rights Organizations -- Iran
- Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse: “Plain Talk About Spanking”; Jordan Riak; 1992.
- David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images