Do you know you have rights? Do you know there is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Your rights are what you may do and what those who are responsible for you must do so that you can be happy, healthy and safe. You also have responsibilities towards other children and adults so that they have their rights granted.
Convention is an agreement of many countries that they shall abide by the same law. When a government adopts a Convention, it means that it agrees to abide by the law written in that Convention. Croatia adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. It means that our government must ensure that every child enjoys all the rights in the Convention.
Each article of the Convention explains one of your rights. It is written for attorneys and lawyers, so even adults sometimes find it difficult to understand. We have chosen some of the rights which we believe are the most important ones and will try to explain them in a more understandable way.
You have the right to know your rights – says article 42 of this Convention.
All persons younger than 18 have all the rights under this Convention
You have these rights no matter who you or your parents are, regardless of the colour of your skin, gender or religion, language you speak, whether you suffer from some impairment and whether you are rich or poor.
Whenever any adult in any way relates to you, they have to do what is best for you.
Everybody must agree that you have the right to life.
You have the right to a name at birth, and it shall, together with your parents’ names and your day of birth, be recorded. You have the right to a citizenship, to know your parents and be cared for by them.
You shall not be separated from your parents, unless for your own good, e.g. if your parents abuse you or if they do not care for you. Also, if your parents decide to separate, although you may have to live with one of them, you have the right to contact both your parents.
If you and your parents do not live in the same country, you have the right to join them and live together.
Nobody should kidnap you, but if it happens, authorities in your State must undertake everything to find and return you.
When adults want to make any decisions affecting you in any way, you have the right to express you opinion, which they have to take into account.
You have the right to get information, to tell, write or draw what you think, if it does not violate somebody’s rights.
You have the right to think what you want and to chose your religion. You parents should teach you what is good and what is not.
You have the right to meet other people, make friends, join or form associations, if it does not violate somebody’s rights.
You have the right to privacy. It, for example, means that you can write a diary nobody is allowed to read.
You have the right to access information from the radio, television, press, books from all over the world. Adults must take care that you get information which you understand.
Your parents must raise you jointly and do what is best for you.
Nobody is allowed to hurt you in any way. Adults must take care that you are protected from abuse and neglect. Not even your parents may hurt you.
If you do not have parents, or if it is unsafe to live with them, you have the right to special protection and help.
If you are adopted, adults must take care that everything is in your best interest.
If you are a refugee (i.e. if you must leave your country because you are not safe there), you have the right to special protection and help.
If you are disabled, whether mentally of physically, you have the right to special care and education, which will help you enjoy a full life.
You have the right to a good health. It means that, when you are sick, you have the right to professional care and medicines. Adults must do everything they can so you do not get sick, by giving you proper food and taking care of you.
You have the right to a good enough standard of living. It means that your parents must take care that you have food, clothes, where to live, etc. If you parents are not able to do that, it is your State’s duty to help you.
You have the right to education. Primary education must be free and you must attend primary school. Higher education should also be available to you.
The aim of your education is to develop your personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent. Education should also prepare you for a responsible and peaceful life, in a free society, respecting others’ rights and the environment.
If you belong to a minority, you have the right to enjoy your own culture and to practise your own religion and language.
You have the right to play.
You have the right to be protected from work at a place and in conditions that threaten your health or education. If somebody profits from your work, you have the right to a fair pay.
You have the right to be protected from the use of illegal drugs and from being involved in their production and distribution.
You have the right to be protected from sexual abuse. It means that nobody is allowed to persuade you into doing anything sexual with your body, or into convincing you that it is good. Nobody is allowed, for example, to touch you, take photos of you or force you into saying something you do not want to say.
Nobody is allowed to abduct or sell you.
Even if you do something wrong, nobody is allowed to punish you in a humiliating way, or in a way which would hurt you. You should never be imprisoned, except in extreme cases, and if it happens, you have the right to special treatment and regular family visits.
You have the right to protection in armed conflicts. If you are under fifteen, you may not be forced to join the army or participate in armed conflicts.
If you are hurt or neglected during a war, you have the right to special care and treatment.
If you are accused of something unlawful, you have the right to defence. The Police, attorneys, and judges at the court of law must treat you with respect and must take care that you understand everything that is happening.
All adults and all children must be familiar with this Convention. You have the right to learn about your rights. Adults should do that, too.
This Convention on the Rights of the Child contains 54 articles. Many of the articles state how adults and governments should cooperate in order to take care that children enjoy their rights. You may also wish to read the whole Convention. Talk about it with your friends, parents and teachers. That way you may help other children, too. The more people understand that children have rights, the higher the probability that it will help more children to grow up healthy, safe and free.