Children and young people need extra protection to stay safe, have access to the things they need to survive and develop and have some say in the decisions that affect their lives.
This extra protection is provided in the form of children’s rights.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a list of children’s rights which apply to every child and young person in the world, no matter who they are, where they live or what they believe in. There are 42 rights relating directly to young people up to 18 and others which set out how governments and adults should work together to make sure children and young people can access their rights.
Wales has enshrined these rights in law in the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. For more information, visit the Children’s Rights in Wales website.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales is responsible for making sure children and young people’s rights are protected. The Commissioner works with young people under 18, or up to 25 if they are care leavers.
The Commissioner works closely with young people, providing information and advice and making sure other organisations like local authorities and health boards are also thinking about their rights and listening to their views.
Helping children to understand their rights
It can be difficult to explain the concept of rights to very young children or those with additional needs. A young person with speech or language difficulties may find it hard to communicate their wishes when decisions that affect them are being made.
The UNCRC Symbol Resource uses symbols and simplified text to help teachers and others working with children to teach them about rights and enhance their understanding of how these rights affect everyday life.
Some children and young people may need the support of an advocate who will speak up for them to defend and promote their rights.