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  • Foto del escritorLuz Mariana Rodríguez

Understanding the Rights of Children: Building a Promising Future

By Luz Mariana Rodríguez | April 6, 2024


Children rights in the United States
Picture By Raul Teran Aquino

"Under the blue sky, we ran without limits, chasing our own myths. We were explorers of unknown lands, with imagination as our compass and guide."


By definition, "infancy" is the initial stage of human life, during our birth till puberty and according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN in 1989, an infant is defined as any person under the age of 18.


By etymology it comes from the Latin "Infantia" which means "Inability to speak" alluding to the stage in which the child cannot yet articulate words, as well as the ancient concept that only adults could speak in public. Which raise the question: How is this still true?


Over the years, there has been a before and after in the fight for children's rights around the world, We can't deny the vulnerability of these human beings in the face of a society full of injustice. Causing this stage, instead of being remembered as a good time, could provably be full of unpleasant episodes or in the worst case, of traumatic situations.


With that in mind, the decision was made to create the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the most ratified international human rights treaty to date. The treaty commits to protect children from violence and exploitation, as well as to ensure their education and a safe environment. Since its acquisition in 1989, about 196 countries have been added.


It is hard to believe that even though it is an essential member of the UN, the United States is the only country that has not ratified the convention. It is important to mention , that some people has the notion that the U.S. government upholds international principles of children's rights.


However, an assessment carried out by Human Rights Watch during 2022 pointed out its concern regarding the care for the rights of children around the country.


This assessment is divided into four fundamental issues for child advocacy: Child marriage, corporal punishment, child labor and juvenile justice. We should emphasize that this assessment was made state-by-state. The reason was that in the United States, many of the issues addressed by the Convention are relegated to the jurisdiction of each state government.


The results were far from encouraging, the reason was that the vast majority of states do not comply with the fundamental standards set by the CRC.


A total of 16 states received an F grade, the lowest grade, the remaining 27 received a D grade and only 7 received a C grade. A and B couldn´t be obtained.


This evaluation shows percentages per state according to compliance with the standards (Child Marriage, Child Labor, Corporal Punishment and Juvenile Justice), which means, those states that complied with the four standards would obtain 100%.


Among the best graded were Ohio with 68.75%, Minnesota with 72.50% and New Jersey with 73.75% (being the highest of all).


In the middle, are states such as Colorado and Massachusetts with 60.0% and Vermont with 61.88%. The state of Kansas remains in this range with 53.13%.


Finally, in the last places are Georgia with 33.75%, Oklahoma with 26.25% and Mississippi with 19.38%, these three being the worst graded in the evaluation.


Despite the pessimistic scenario about the protection of children's rights, many states managed to increase their compliance percentages during the 2022-2023 period, some of these being: Connecticut prohibiting child marriage, New York raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and Illinois prohibiting life imprisonment without parole (Applicable only to minors).


Childhood
UNICEF: All rights are linked to each other; They are all equally important and children cannot be deprived of any of them. Photo from iStock

Without a doubt, the environment surrounding American children has not been the best in recent years. That is why during this month of April we must celebrate and become aware as a society about the rights of future men and women so we can all build a better world.


Respecting and protecting children through their most basic rights: the right to a dignified life, to education, to health and above all to freedom of expression, after all, what good has done a world full of mute children and deaf adults ?


Mexico celebrates "El día del niño" on April 30th.

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