National Child Day celebrates two historic events: the United Nations ratification of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

National Child’s Day invites Canadians to bring awareness to children’s rights and inspire more profound reflection around the human rights of children. While the understanding of children’s rights may not be new to those who work directly with children, youth, and families, public awareness of the existence and extent of children’s rights remains low.

YW Calgary is collaborating with a consortium of organizations across the province making up the Alberta National Child Day Coalition. This year, we aim to leverage November 20th—National Child Day—to visibly increase the public’s understanding of children’s rights through events and activities within our respective communities.

Why are Conversations around Children Rights Essential for Children Themselves?

A survey conducted in November 2020, showed that 44% of children did not know about their rights, and 73% were unaware that their rights had been violated (Fraser, 2020). The theme this year is the Right to Survive and Thrive.

Children face an array of challenges from mental to physical wellbeing. Children are some of our most vulnerable populations, and as responsible adults, we must create awareness to ensure children’s rights are being met and maintained. The more children who understand children’s rights, the more empowerment and imagination they will have to improve their lives.

Active discussions around children’s rights encourage a sense of independence as children learn how to seek help when feeling unsafe. This sense of autonomy encourages children to talk with safe adults, share their thoughts and emotions, and instills permission to ask questions, be curious and create their own opinions.

In addition, a greater understanding of children’s rights generates acceptance for children’s uniqueness and inspires resilient youth to be courageous to stand up for themselves and others.

How can we bring awareness to Children’s Rights?
Initiating conversations around rights and injustice can be uncomfortable. However, this type of discomfort inspires growth and change. Adults can begin an authentic dialogue for children’s rights by simply asking questions: Do you know of children’s rights? What do you think children’s rights are?

Next, adults must provide an inclusive, safe space where children’s voices are heard and respected. Imagine the insight and inspiration children will share when adults provide the stage and unravel the many layers behind these 12 foundational children’s rights. These conversations are needed for us to overcome the norms and policies that prevent advocates and families from ensuring children’s rights are embedded in all environments where children play, learn and explore.

Children’s rights are essential for positive, secure, and healthy development. Children are a continuous inspiration within our communities. Ensuring children’s rights will strengthen belonging, courage, vision, and growth, as children navigate and discover the world around them.

Further learning and become involved in the ongoing journey of children’s rights advocacy:

Fraser, S. (November 20, 2020). 44% of Canadians children don’t know they have rights, says advocacy group. CBC News.

UNICEF (2021). The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The children’s version. UNICEF: for every child.