Why are the rights in the convention important for me to know?
Every right covered in the UNCRC is seeking to guarantee the health, well-being, and safety of children and youth. The UNCRC is a minimum standard for children and youth.
OK, the UNCRC sets minimum standards, but isn’t Canada already doing a pretty good job?
The BC Representative for Children and Youth released a report about growing up in BC. Children in our province battle with poverty, nutrition, literacy, lice/bed bugs, abuse, barriers to practicing their own culture, and so much more. BC’s children need to have their rights respected.
The UNCRC recognizes that these rights are essential to the proper development of a child and therefore non-negotiable. It defined children as human beings—as individuals entitled to rights like all others. Furthermore, it declares that children are part of a community and that this community must ensure that it is promoting the safe and healthy development of all children.
The universality of the convention in terms of how many countries have signed it is so important because it makes the UNCRC a standard. What this means is that we judge countries’ child rights record using the UNCRC as a reference point for what countries should be doing for children. The greater point of the convention, however, is that children’s rights are important not only for children, but for all of society. A society that doesn’t recognize these rights and doesn’t make the adequate investments in young people will do damage to itself in the future since its youth will not develop to their fullest ability not having lived a healthy childhood. Additionally, studies have proven that rights-based education within the classroom has been a much more effective tool at promoting good citizenship and the concepts of respect and responsibility. An example of this is the Hampshire Initiative, which I’ve included in the report section of this guide.
The idea behind this claim is simple. If you know about your rights, you are empowered. It boosts your self-esteem and you’re less likely to infringe on someone else’s rights as well.