Kids Have Rights, Too!

Convention on the Rights of the Child Still Needs U.S. Approval


Who makes sure that countries actually protect children’s rights?Every 2-5 years, all countries that have ratified the Convention must submit a report showing that they meet all the requirements of the Convention. These reports are looked at by a group of experts from all over the world called the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Twenty years ago the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is a treaty that sets guidelines and holds governments responsible for the fair treatment and protection of anyone under age 18. Only two countries have not ratified (formally accepted) the treaty: the United States and Somalia.

Many human rights organizations are asking President Obama and the U.S. Senate, the body that signs treaties, to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program, said that the Obama administration should “uphold the American values of fairness and justice for all by building a much-needed human rights [system].”

Many reasons have been given for why the U.S. government has still not ratified the treaty. Some religious and parents’ rights groups are against ratifying the Convention because they believe it will limit the control that parents have over their children. They say that signing the treaty could make spanking kids illegal, would give children the right to choose their own religion, would allow kids to have sex education and could require the government to provide childcare.


Supporters of the Convention say that it protects the basic rights that children all over the world should enjoy.

To read more about your rights and how to protect them, go to the United Nations Children’s Fund website for kids:

Today in the World:

  • Every day, on average, more than 26,000 children under the age of five die, mostly from preventable causes.
  • There are more than 115 million children of primary school age who are not in school.
  • More than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.


193 Countries Have Agreed to Protect

the Following Rights of All Children:



When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.
(Article 12)



All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this right. Discipline in schools should respect children’s dignity.
(Article 28)



Children have the right to good quality healthcare, to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment and information to help them stay healthy. (Article 24)



Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities. (Article 31)

Photos from Uruguay, South Africa, Thailand and India
by Alan Wicht and Geoff Bugbee,

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