The Convention on the Rights of Children
Growing up, I could not possibly count the number of times my parents told me how hard it was to raise a child in this world. I can, however, remember how hard it was being one. Luckily, I was blessed with two loving parents who always had my best interests in mind and eventually as I passed through the innocence of my youth and the awkwardness of adolescence to where I am today, I got to fully understand the sacrifices that they made on my behalf. I also realize that not everyone has guardians who are able or willing to make such sacrifices, and as a result children can often suffer. As a society, we must investigate potential dangers to children that could hurt their upbringing both physically and mentally, and come to terms with certain solutions that would help underprivileged children. According to UNICEF, an estimated 12 million children under the age of five die every year of easily preventable causes, and about 160 million children are severely or moderately malnourished. These figures only describe the tip of the iceberg in terms of physical barriers that children around the world face, and we cannot ever truly know the amount of emotional abuses that coincides with this figure. Clearly, something is not right and needs to be addressed in order to protect children on a global level.
In order to determine the manner in which to protect children, we have to examine the nature of their rights. Do children have the need for special rights aside from established adult human rights? I would think so, and many would agree with that conclusion. Issues such as infant mortality, child labor, and child abuse extend beyond the scope of adult human rights. For instance, whereas an adult female involved in domestic violence has at least some means of escape, children are helpless. Similarly, adults in poverty can be forced to sell their children into either prostitution or sweatshops, with no protection afforded to the child. For these reasons the United Nations has proposed The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been the most quickly and widely ratified global treaty ever, ratified by every nation with the exception of the United States and Somalia.
Why should the United States be a signatory for such a proposal? In my opinion, the major issues that face children worldwide are discrimination, child labor, and abuse. These issues are clearly identified by the Convention in its various articles. Article 2 ensures rights of children despite discrimination based on “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status”. This is an important issue to me personally because I was an immigrant child, and at some points in my life my family was in the United States illegally, and I know that certain rights were denied to me because of my national/ethnic origin. Many schools around us would not accept...