Rights of a child rights of a child

Rights of a child

Rights are things that every person needs to survive, to be treated fairly and to reach their fullest potential.  Rights list very specific things that we have and need to live with dignity and be treated with respect.  All adults have human rights. Just like adults, every child also has rights. Children’s rights are written down in a special document called “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).”

This Convention is an international human rights treaty which formally and explicitly outlines the rights of children in international law including basic human rights such as the right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation, the right to an education and healthcare and the right to be free from discrimination of any kind. The Convention emphasises respect for the inherent human dignity of all children, the importance of recognising diversity— including learning styles, abilities, gender, family circumstances and geographic location—and the principles of non-discrimination, best interests of the child, participation and survival and development.

The convention defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood younger.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child has 54 articles in all. Articles 43-54 are about how adults and governments should work together to make sure that all children get all their rights. To read all the articles please click on the link below


Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990.

A good understanding of rights of children and how you can uphold these rights is critical to your role as an early childhood educator.  Education and Care services national Law (2010) supports the incorporation of the Convention into legislation in Australia. Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) also incorporates the Convention into national guide for curriculum decision making in early childhood education and care.

“Early childhood educators guided by the [Early Years Learning Framework] will reinforce in their daily practice the principles laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention states that all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages. The Convention also recognises children’s right to play and be active participants in all matters affecting their lives. (The Early Years Learning Framework, 2009, p. 5.)”

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) recently released Supporting young children’s rights: statement of intent (2015 – 2018). This statement is designed to guide educators and professionals working with young children to implement, consider and advocate for young children’s rights in their day-to-day practice. The focus of this statement of intent is guided by these five themes

  • The right to be heard -Promoting children’s voice and participation in decision-making

processes, and enabling greater opportunities to hear from children about their concerns-

  • Freedom from violence, abuse and neglect -Delivering safe environments and respect for the dignity of the child
  • The opportunity to thrive-Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all children in Australia,

including building an effective early intervention and prevention system; with a focus on the most vulnerable children—along the lines of proportionate universalism

  • Engaged civics and citizenship – Through education and awareness of children and the

community about their rights and responsibilities in practical and meaningful ways

  • Action and accountability-Taking action to collect comprehensive national data about child

wellbeing, progress a national vision for children, and develop mechanisms by which children’s interests are systematically considered in law policy and practice development and review

For more details on Supporting young children’s rights: statement of intent (2015 – 2018) please click on the link below


Here are some practical ways how educators can uphold children’s rights through everyday practices as suggested in the statement of intent-

  • Recognise children’s agency and their individual and evolving capacity to participate in day-to-day considerations relating to their lives
  • Facilitate learning environments that foster opportunities for all children to express themselves
  • Listen to and value children’s views and opinions and show that their views have been acted on
  • Provide children with opportunities for their views to be heard and acted upon
  • Listen to and value families’ views and opinions and show that their views have been acted on
  • Advocate for children’s views and opinions to be heard and valued within the early learning environment, the family and the community.
  • Develop your understanding of risk and protective factors that contribute to children’s safety as well as relevant legislation and mechanisms for protecting children from violence, abuse and neglect
  • Listen to children and recognise and respond to signs of violence, abuse and neglect
  • Provide children with opportunities to raise their concerns about safety
  • Improve your understanding of each child’s family and support their connections with relevant local services that support safe environments for children
  • facilitate learning environments that foster opportunities for all children to express themselves
  • Model respectful relationships
  • Know, learn and understand the history of Australia’s first people
  • Learn more about your own culture and the cultures of the children and families within your community
  • Commit to ongoing professional development on cultural awareness and approved learning frameworks for educating children about culture and diversity
  • Facilitate a learning environment that will promote opportunities for children to thrive and excel
  • Provide children with information relevant to their day-to-day lives in consultation with families and based on the child’s evolving capacity and understanding
  • Recognise children’s current capacity and abilities and support children to learn
  • Support, promote and advocate for the provision of play-based learning opportunities for children in early childhood education and care settings.
  • Support children to know and understand their rights and responsibilities
  • Provide daily opportunities for children to exercise their rights and responsibilities in their early learning education and care environment, their family and their community
  • Provide support to children, and their families, to promote children’s privacy and personal safety particularly in relation to digital technology used in the early learning environment, services for young children and at home
  • Value and respect diversity
  • Respect relationships.
  • Take a critically reflective stance on your own professional practices with children and be amenable to feedback.