Young Children's Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Attitudes, Principles, and Practice

Young Children's Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Attitudes, Principles, and Practice

Young Children's Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Attitudes, Principles, and Practice

Young Children's Rights: Exploring Beliefs, Attitudes, Principles, and Practice

Excerpt

‘We hear far too much about children’s rights’ is a frequently-made assertion. It is often stated in response to examples of children appearing to be greedy, selfish and irresponsible, demanding anything from holidays in Florida to designer trainers. Yet these luxuries have little to do with children’s rights.

The difference between luxuries and rights is illustrated, for example, by media stories during the school holidays of parents having to ferry children around from one expensive treat to the next – swimming pools, sports and music sessions, zoos and theme parks. These outings are very enjoyable but, when asked what they most enjoy, children tend to say ‘time with my friends’, ‘playing games in the park’, ‘messing about on the beach or by the river’, ‘taking my dog for a walk’. These answers are closer to basic human rights: freedom to enjoy and move around the area where they live, to meet their friends and be members of their local community, to enjoy nature, to play actively and creatively rather than be passive consumers.

Many children are denied these simple freedoms because of dangerous traffic and undue fear of strangers exacerbated by media panics, because crowded built-up areas have no safe, clean, outdoor spaces to play, and so much of the countryside is fenced-off as private property. As a result, young children usually have to rely on busy adults to escort them into the street or to arrange to meet a friend. They are virtually imprisoned in their own homes in Britain.

For families without large-enough gardens, the easiest way to enjoy being outside with friends is to go on an outing, to pay for access to pools, or woods, or animals, or space to play sports. Over the past few decades, the closing down of public spaces to children (even school grounds are locked up during the holidays) and the opening up of . . .

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