Hesperian Health Guides
Who defends the rights of children?
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While children have specific rights guaranteed by laws of their own countries and international law, because they are children they usually are not aware they have rights. Besides, young children cannot advocate for themselves. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and community leaders must make sure children’s rights are respected so children are not neglected, abused, or exploited.
Survival rights include decent living standards, enough food, and access to health care and medicines. Survival rights focus on the child’s right to live, grow, and have good physical and mental health.
Protection rights include keeping children free from harm, especially in difficult conditions where children may be neglected, abused or exploited. Protection rights focus on how keeping children free from violence is the responsibility of everyone in the community.
Participation rights include the right of children to be heard and to take part in decisions that affect their lives. Participation rights focus on recognizing that children must have a say in their lives and the life of their communities.
Developmental rights include the right to education, play and culture. Developmental rights focus on not just the child’s survival, but on having a life worth living.
Like many rights and laws, children’s rights are often little more than nice words on paper. But parents and caregivers of children with HIV are increasingly using these rights to make sure:
- children get free access to HIV medicines and needed health care.
- children who lose their parents to AIDS are kept together with their brothers and sisters and in their communities.
- families get enough food and support.
- stigma does not prevent children from getting medical care or education, and that they are not discriminated against in any way.