Child Rights & Its Importance

Child Rights and Its importance

It’s distressing to see abandoned children fending for themselves on the streets, subjected to abuse, and denied even the most basic rights.

They face various sorts of violence. They also lack primary healthcare. Every day, they are subjected to forceful and horrific abuse. They are innocent, young, and vulnerable children who are being deprived of their rights.

In human rights history, the rights of children have been ratified the most. Child rights go beyond basic human rights, which ensure that everyone is treated equally and receives adequate support for their well-being.

What Are Child Rights?

Child rights refer to a set of legal entitlements, protections, and freedoms provided to all children under the age of 18. They are a specific subset of general human rights that address the distinct needs and optimal welfare of children in the early years of life.

Some of the fundamental rights and safeguards given to children under domestic and international law include:

  • Right to life, survival, and development
  • Right to an adequate quality of living, which includes nutrition, shelter, and healthcare.
  • Right to be protected from abuse, harm, negligence, and physical or mental assault.
  • Right to equitable treatment regardless of colour, gender, language, religion, and community.
  • Right to freedom of speech and thought. (Every child has the right to express and speak his or her thoughts)
  • Right to education (According to Article 14 of the Indian constitution, every child between the ages of 6 to 14 has the right to an education, training in key skills, sports, and others)

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Status of Children’s Rights In India

Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights (Act 2005) has had some success in advancing children’s rights in India. Primarily, eradicating child labour and safeguarding children and adolescents. The commission’s goal is to ensure all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in line with the child rights perspectives as enshrined in the constitution of India and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), established in 1989.

It is obvious that in India, supporting children’s rights is a government priority, as stated in the constitution and protected by legislation. Despite this, children in India continue to encounter obstacles in achieving their rights, notably, those relating to forced labour, and child marriage. Given that children make up 24% of India’s 1.44 billion population, their rights must be protected.

Importance of Child Rights

According to the most recent census data, India has the world’s highest child population of more than 431 million. (Source: UNICEF, 2023). With so many children, it is even more important to ensure their well-being through child rights.

The economy is improving, but the major gaps based on gender, caste, class, and religion continue to exist. This causes millions of children to face issues such as starvation, child marriage, and child labour.

On the other hand, child rights ensure that each child receives equal treatment and has the opportunity to grow up in a safe, secure and encouraging environment. When children enjoy these rights, it helps to alleviate poverty and promotes long-term growth for all.

Also Read: Girl Child Education In India

Risk Factors:

  • Child Marriages:
  • Child marriage violates children’s basic rights. Many children who are subjected to this offence are forced to drop out of school, denying them their fundamental right to an education.

  • Child Labour:
  • Children under the age of fourteen often spend all day sewing shoes and footballs, rolling cigarettes and incense sticks, embroidering on clothes, making handicrafts, packing, and applying labels to various things. Many times, children are found working in hazardous chemical factories.

  • Intoxicating children:
  • It is illegal to give a child alcoholic liquor, a narcotic drug, tobacco, or any psychotropic substance, not only orally but also via inhaling, smoking, or injecting, among other things.

  • Kidnapping and Abduction of a Child:
  • Children who have been kidnapped are sold to human traffickers and used for a variety of reasons, including prostitution, begging, house help, etc.

    Also Read: Participate To Progress

    How Do We Protect Children’s Rights in India?

    While progress has been made in raising social awareness, improving legislation, and encouraging action to end child violence, abuse, and exploitation, more work needs to be done to ensure victims and their families get sensitive, timely, and efficient protection and support.

    1. Education & Awareness:
    2. A key priority is implementing mandatory awareness campaigns on child rights across curricula from the early stages of education. This should be supported by mass education efforts in the media, particularly regional media, aimed at eliminating usual practices that violate child rights, such as child marriage and hazardous child labour.

    3. Promote the Importance of Child Health:
    4. To promote healthy physical and cognitive development, public health infrastructure must be improved, government health initiatives like the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) be expanded, and malnutrition be addressed.

      This involves increasing access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and healthcare infrastructure, particularly in rural regions.

    5. Legal Frameworks:
    6. At the basic level, all laws and rights that safeguard children, such as the right to an education and the prohibition of child marriage, must be consistently implemented and free of social pressures or biases. Simultaneously, conflicts between central and state regulations must be recognized and resolved with child rights-based legal principles, eliminating any controversies or uncertainties in interpretations.

    7. Child Protection Services:
    8. An accessible local child rights protection setting is critical for aiding children facing abandonment, assault, trafficking, drug abuse, and other forms of hardship. This entails placing well-funded and highly trained protection officers in each block to aid vulnerable kids. It also involves extending kid helplines, shelters, and counselling facilities to address concerns such as sexual abuse, child marriage, and unsafe migration.

    9. Avoiding Child Labour:
    10. Child labour violates the Indian Constitution’s Articles 21 (right to life), Article 23 (right to protection from forced labour), and  Article 24 (right to protection from hazardous employment). Strict bans and penalties are required against the employment of children below the age of 14 years. Along with rigorous and routine monitoring of hazardous industries like mining, fireworks, glass manufacturing, etc.

    11. NGO and Civil Society Participation:
    12. NGO collaboration in providing government welfare projects can result in greater reach and creativity. Leading child rights organizations play a vital role in ensuring disadvantaged children’s access to education, medications, and food, while also reducing child labor, child marriage, and other ills that hinder growth.

    Such NGOs drive essential work that the state and communities cannot do alone. Hence, increasing NGO engagement through public interest litigations can highlight systemic deficiencies in the child protection system that require urgent policy and legislative reform.

    Summing Up!

    Every child deserves to be treated fairly, equitably, and with the utmost morality, regardless of their disparities. They all enjoy the same fundamental rights, regardless of race, colour, caste, religion, language, ethnicity, or gender.

    As stakeholders, we must collaborate to create an environment in which children can develop without fear. By advocating, cooperating, and adopting technological advancements, we can make sure that every child’s rights and well-being are safeguarded.

    Hence, the nation, its people, and the government must unite and oppose any offences against children. Only by eradicating child suffering and promoting their overall well-being India can ensure a secure future. 

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