Academic journal article Education

A Comparative Study on Children's Perceptions of the Child Rights in the Turkish Community of Turkey and Northern Cyprus

Academic journal article Education

A Comparative Study on Children's Perceptions of the Child Rights in the Turkish Community of Turkey and Northern Cyprus

Article excerpt

Childhood is a socio-cultural concept, which is one of the natural and unchangeable links of the chain of life. Therefore, the meaning ascribed to both the childhood life and concept of child has varied through the ages. Children were considered to be inferior adults in the West for approximately 2000 years from the Antiquity to the 19th century. For example, according to the Aristotelian view, it is not who the child--and the child is generally male--is but who he can be that is important. Because the children were considered to be incompetent and completely dependent on adults, their lives were not attached importance by the medieval authors. The change that started in the cultural and intellectual environment beginning with the Renaissance and spreading with the French Revolution also continued in the 19th century, and people started considering it was worth to study children as a distinct field of research on account of the fact that they were different and special. Factors such as the shift of economy from agriculture to industry, development of the middle class, change in family structure, and the fact that emotional bond became important in relations between parents and child were effective in this change (Ahearn, Holzer and Andrews, 2007). The Romantics of the 19th century attached importance to children as a being blessed by God, and to the childhood as a source of inspiration that lasted a lifetime. Thus, the way was paved for the scientists and educationalists to study the childhood period in the 19th century. In the 20th century, children were considered to be the most important human resource that determined the future of the society, and the accumulation of knowledge in social sciences incited the interest in children. It was seen that relations between children and adults were not composed of unilateral authority, but that children affected the behaviors and lives of adults with their individual and collective reactions. Because, as part of a wider system just like the other social categories, children were exposed to requirements from this system and also affect the other parts of the system (Heywood, 2003: 8-8; Akyuz, 2001: 2; Tan, 1993: 16).

One of the important characteristics of the modern lifestyle is the fact that the area of action of the individuals and organizations in terms of the rights and responsibilities are determined with almost definite borders (Covell, 2004). Today, debates as to whether no values are more important than the human rights continue. It is important to know the rights and responsibilities of the individuals in terms of protection and development of the human rights (Carroll, Woods, Foxworth and Walker, 2000). Therefore, the human rights education has become an indispensable part of the primary education in developed societies. Children's rights constitute one of the important parts of the human rights education. In line with this developing view, children were tried to be protected from the effects of migration, industrialization, and urbanization, and measures started to be taken for the health and welfare of the children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child that aims to achieve the "common good" for the children is one of these measures. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted at the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1989, and came into force on September 2, 1990 (UNESCO, 2005). This convention, in which the principles and standards of human rights were adapted in terms of the children, was signed by Turkey on September 14, 1990 and put into effect in 1995. This convention is of a statutory effect as per the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey (Cilga, 2001: 2; Cilga, 2001: 3) and is in force in the TRNC as well.

When considered in general, we see that there are two sides with respect to the children's rights: the children themselves and institutions, particularly their families that have rights and interests in them and that determine the radius of action of children in terms of the social life (Beasley, Abrams et al, 2004). …

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