Human Rights Day 2018: Talking to Children About Human Rights
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Human Rights Day 2018
The 10th December 2018 sees the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Human Rights Day is observed on this anniversary every year. The day is normally marked both by high-level political conferences and meetings, and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. You can find out more about how different countries are celebrating Human Rights Day on the United Nations website here.
Talking to Children About…
The issues at the heart of Human Rights Day can be complicated and difficult for younger pupils to understand. However, for children to develop into respectful, fully-rounded human beings, it is important for them to comprehend and embody the values of the Declaration. We’ve created some messaging that should hopefully make it easier to talk to children about Human Rights in the classroom and at home.
The United Nations
The United Nations was founded in 1945, to promote peace at the end of the Second World War. There were originally 51 countries (or member states), there are now 193, including the United Kingdom. Now, 70 years later, the UN is still working hard across the world to provide peace and security. It also promotes development and gives humanitarian assistance to those in need, as well as maintaining international law, protecting human rights and promoting democracy. Its latest aim is to work together to fight climate change.
Glossary for Children
The Second World War – World War II was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, impacting over 100 million in 30 countries world-wide. It was the deadliest war in human history; between 50 and 85 million people died, including the genocide of the Holocaust.
Humanitarian Assistance – The main aim of humanitarian aid is to save lives, reduce suffering and maintain human dignity. It is usually required in response to a crisis, such as natural disasters, or for refugees who have had to leave their homes as a result of war.
Democracy – A democracy is a type of government, where leaders and representatives are elected by the whole population through voting. The UK is a democracy.
Climate Change – Climate change is the change in weather and temperature over a long period of time. This can have negative and dangerous effects on the natural world. Some human activities are thought to be the primary causes of climate change, including the use of fossil fuels and deforestation.
The Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is an important document that sets out the indisputable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, gender, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The declaration lays out these rights in 30 different ‘Articles’ or rules.
The declaration in the most translated document in the entire world and is available in over 500 different languages. You can download a copy of the declaration here.
The following key values of the Declaration of Human Rights appears on the United Nations website here.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all
Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day
Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values
Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace
Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk
We need to stand up for our rights and those of others
How Human Rights Are Important to Everybody, Everyday
To help children to understand the individual articles of the Declaration of Human Rights, it may be helpful to relate them to issues that they may be aware of. We’ve taken a look at some of these below, but it may be good to apply them to things that have happened in the classroom, or at home.
Article 7 – All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
What does this mean? Everybody, no matter their race, gender, religion, etc. is equally entitled to be protected by the law. This means that if someone commits a crime against you, whoever you are, you are entitled to seek justice.
Article 9 – No one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
What does this mean? You cannot be arrested by the police, sent to prison or removed from the country without being found guilty of a crime at a fair trial.
Article 11, Part 1 – Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
What does this mean? Anyone who has been put on trial for a crime must be treated as innocent until enough evidence has been provided to prove that they are guilty.
Article 12 – No one should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
What does this mean? Every person who is living within the law (i.e. who is not breaking any laws), is entitled to privacy with their family, within their home and in any letters, emails or telephone conversations. They are also able to seek justice if they are the victim of an untrue attack on their reputation. I.e. if a newspaper prints a false story which negatively affects their life. This is called slander.
Article 13 – Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
What does this mean? Every person has the right to hold their own opinions and religious beliefs without fear of prejudice. Not only does this give everyone the opportunity to worship as they please, but to change/leave a religion as well.
Article 26, Part 1 – Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.
What does this mean? Every child has the right to a free education. Every child must go to school to give them the best opportunities to be successful in life.
There are lots of discussions around human rights that can help children to understand their rights, and to respect the rights of others. Do you teach human rights in class? Let us know how you discuss Human Rights with your children or pupils in the comments section below.
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