There are about 2.3 billion children in the world, nearly a third of the total human population. Children are defined by law as people who are under the age of majority in their country, usually 18 years old. Whatever their age, all children have human rights, just as adults do. This includes the right to speak out and express opinions, as well as rights to equality, health, education, a clean environment, a safe place to live and protection from all kinds of harm. Children’s rights are enshrined in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most ratified human rights treaty in the world. Only one of the UN’s 197 member states hasn’t ratified the Convention — the United States.
The UNCRC seeks to protect children from harm, to provide for their growth and development, and to empower their participation in society. Article 42 of the Convention is a commitment to educate children and adults about child rights, but it seldom happens. Ignorance of rights puts children at greater risk of abuse, discrimination and exploitation.