About Children's Rights

Every child and young person under the age of 18 has rights, no matter who they are, where they live or what they believe in. These rights are based on what they need to survive and flourish, such as clean water, good healthcare, protection from abuse and the chance to go to school. They take account of the particular needs of children, recognising that there are special factors involved in the development, nurture and protection of children, which differentiate them from adults.

Fundamental to all children's rights is the notion that children are entitled to expect from adults appropriate care, protection and consideration. The State must provide legislation and services to guarantee these rights. Children's rights, like all human rights, have a universal meaning. Ultimately, the international community must be the guardian of children's rights against abuse or neglect by any individual State.

In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC). This treaty spells out the rights of all children and is based on four key principles:

  • the best interests of the child should be the first consideration for actions that affect him or her
  • all children have the right to life, survival and development
  • all children have the right to participate
  • all rights belong to all children without discrimination or exception


Some examples of Children's Rights are:

  • the right to have a voice in matters that affect children
  • the right to special protection
  • the right to special education and care
  • the right to play and rest
  • the right to health

Find out more about the Articles of the UNCRC from the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland.

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