The full list of rights for children and young people under the age of 18 is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most accepted standard on children’s rights in the world. Ireland committed to promote children’s rights when it signed up to the Convention in 1992.
Children’s rights include the right to health, education, family life, play and recreation, an adequate standard of living and to be protected from abuse and harm. Children’s rights cover their developmental and age-appropriate needs that change over time as a child grows up.
There are four general principles that underpin all children’s rights:
- Non-discrimination means that all children have the same right to develop their potential in all situations and at all times. For example, every child should have equal access to education regardless of the child’s gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, parentage, sexual orientation or other status
- The best interests of the child must be “a primary consideration” in all actions and decisions concerning a child, and must be used to resolve conflicts between different rights. For example, when making national budgetary decisions affecting children, Government must consider how cuts will impact on the best interests of the child
- The right to survival and development underscores the vital importance of ensuring access to basic services and to equality of opportunity for children to achieve their full development. For example, a child with a disability should have effective access to education and health care to achieve their full potential
- The views of the child mean that the voice of the child must be heard and respected in all matters concerning his or her rights. For example, those in power should consult with children before making decisions that will affect them.