Children Rights in Social Studies Curricula in Elementary Education: A Comparative Study*

Article excerpt

Abstract

Social studies classes educate students as citizens who are expected to adopt democratic values and apply their information and richness to their life. Social studies classes are the ones that include human rights education in the first place. The purpose of this study is to make a comparison of inclusion levels of children's rights issues in Turkish and USA social studies curricula. The study adopts the survey model. Data source of the study is all the gains in social studies curricula of Turkey and the USA. We used the content analysis, which is a qualitative research method, in this study. Turkish social studies curriculum was found to include children's rights more than USA curriculum does. Gains with right to participation takes the most place in Turkish social studies curriculum whereas gains with the right to development take the most allocated place in USA social studies curriculum. In addition, neither country's curriculum included gains with the children's right to protection in social studies curricula.

Key Words

Children's Rights, UN Convention on the Rights of Child, Curricula, Social Studies Education, Turkey, U.S.A.

The idea of children's rights is an important part of human rights. Thus, the emergence, realization, development, and acquisition/application of children's rights have been studied along with the development process of human rights more generally (Dogan, 2000). The concept of children's rights means the provision of benefits and protection by legal rules in order to allow children to develop mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, morally, economically, independently, decently, healthily and normally (Akyüz, 1999). In other words, children's rights are considered as part of a universal concept including all physically, psychologically, sociologically, and politically described rights granted to all children on earth, in relation to legal and social norms, given at birth (Wald, 1986).

The idea of protecting children and children's rights emerged from the idea that all people are responsible for children regardless of religion, language, race, color, nationality, or ideology (Inan, 1995). The history of this idea started with the Geneva Declaration of Children's Rights in 1924; later in 1959, the Declaration of Children's Rights was added to the discussion. In 1979, when the United Nations celebrated the "Children's Year", Prof. Lopatka from Poland proposed a bill for children's rights. The idea of a bill was accepted with majority votes in the United Nations general assembly in 1979. The first draftwas accepted and was then developed into its latest form over ten years' time. The text, first voted in the United Nations' General As- sembly, was accepted on the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of Children's Rights on November 20, 1989 and was signed by 61 nations on January 26, 1990. The Convention of Children's rights (CCR) was approved by 191 nations, except the USA and Somalia, and was put into effect on the September 2, 1990. Like other human rights documents, this bill has general validity on the international platform and includes children's political, economic, social, cultural, and citizenship rights. According to Dogan (2005), the CCR is the most important document so far prepared about children's rights, since children were provided with the legal support expected and described in 1989. The physical, mental, emotional, social, and moral protection of children is detailed in the bill. The CCR rights require the signing nations to provide the stated rights in full (Akyüz, 1999).

Introducing children's fundamental rights and freedoms to children became a requirement at this time. Based on the best benefit for children, various needs and desires are put forward in the Convention of Children's Rights. The bill's principles and provisions cover all units (family, society, state, and etc.) related to children. It is doubtless that providing the permanency and development of children's rights will be a sound investment in contemporary democratic culture, as childhood defines adulthood. …