Have you ever thought about “children’s rights”? Although the subject that is familiar enough for many, not everyone has a deep knowledge on this topic. Upon hearing the term “children’s rights”, most people think of child labor or child abuse. Actually, children’s rights cover any topic that is related to “the best interest of the child”, according to the United Nation (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child focuses on four different aspects: right to survival, right to development, right to protection, and rights to participation. As I wanted to learn more about Children’s rights, earlier this year, I signed up for the Child Right Advocate program at the International Child Rights Center. The International Child Rights Center (“InCRC”) is an NGO group based in Seoul, Korea that aims to enhance the capacity of all stakeholders, including children, individuals, organizations and governments to effectively ensure, promote and protect children and their human rights. This NGO group works with the Korean government and other groups to improve the existing system for children’s wellbeing and to educate people from young children to adults about children’s rights through the Child Rights Advocate program. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child serves as a legal guideline.
[Brochure from the International Child Rights Center (InCRC) - Child Rights Advocate Program/
When I went to the first session of the Child Rights Advocate program, the majority of the people present were school teachers, educators, and people from companies who are interested in the current status of Child Rights. It was a bit surprising that I was the only teenager who was part of the program. In our first session, we all introduced ourselves telling who we are and the reason for being part of the program. Then people were divided into table groups mostly having five people per group. The first session focused on the very basic step of learning about Human Rights and the importance of having knowledge about Human Rights. During the group discussion that followed, our group defined Human Rights as “a universal and legitimate guarantee of basic freedom, rights, and dignity of individuals and groups that fulfills fundamental human needs.” After the group discussion, the presenter showed us the formal definition of Human Rights from the United Nations Human Rights Declaration, article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” It was quite amazed at how the definition our group came up with and the official definition from the UN were similar.
[Wants and Needs Activity - Child Rights Advocate Program
After the first session, I was able to learn the clear definition of what Human Rights is and had the opportunity to learn more about Children’s Rights through various activities. One meaningful activity was having discussions about the news articles that each person researched online. There were interesting news articles about children actors working after midnight against children’s rights law and other articles about child abuse. This activity showed me that there are many more cases that can be considered as children’s rights cases than I had ever thought. In our second session, we had a chance to look at the improvements made over the years and how the perspective of viewing Children’s Rights has been changed globally and in Korea. During the third session, each group had the chance to divide the cards that were given to us which contained both wants and needs of children. We used the Wants and Needs Card shown above in the image and divided them into wants and needs categories in each situation, like a war, a natural disaster, or other emergency situations. Through this activity, we learned what needs to be prioritized for a child and that the priority for a child may change depending on the situation at hand. By learning and discussing with people who care about children’s rights, I came to the conclusion that it is vital for everyone to always think about children’s rights. Without awareness, there can be no hope for improvement.
Ashley Minju Song
Junior (Grade 11)
Ashley Minju Song email@example.com
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