This charter, originally produced by the World Health Organization, stands as a benchmark for children’s human rights. It has been adopted (but is not legally binding) by many leading children’s organizations worldwide, and serves as a guide to what a child needs to develop into a happy, thriving adult.
Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child:
All children have the right to what follows, no matter what their race, color sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or where they were born or to whom they were born.
You have the special right to grow up and to develop physically and spiritually in a healthy and normal way, free and with dignity.
You have a right to a name and to be a member of a country.
You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services.
You have the right to special care if handicapped in any way.
You have the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help.
You have the right to go to school for free, to play, and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful. Your parents have special responsibilities for your education and guidance.
You have the right always to be among the first to get help.
You have the right to be protected against cruel acts or exploitation, e.g. you shall not be obliged to do work which hinders your development both physically and mentally. You should not work before a minimum age and never when that would hinder your health, and your moral and physical development.
You should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.
The reaction for many of us who read these rights for the first time is incredulity. Our childhood experiences did not involve many or any of these rights. We struggle to believe that these rights are correct. This is because we were infected with seeds of dysfunction that manifested as a lack of care and overt abuse. Although a part of us has become our parents, we are ready to recalibrate our distorted thinking. This exercise is one more step to help us do this.
Look at each right and, in your journal, note down which ones (or parts of each one) you received as a child. Then list how you received them. If you didn’t receive any, put zero.