Why children’s rights are important
Children in their developmental age are hit hardest by adversity. We have witnessed the harm done to children in the face of many current issues, such as the Covid-19 outbreak and the social unrest. Our community should understand and support children’s rights by LISTENING to children, STANDING UP for their rights and needs, DEFENDING when their rights are being violated, and THINKING AND PLANNING with children’s perspectives in mind.
Children are invisible in our policy making process in Hong Kong. Their voice has been largely ignored in all public consultations even when the policies are closely related to them. Children are non-voters, which makes their voice even weaker. As a result, many important child-related issues remained stalled:
- Corporal punishment is still commonly practiced at home.
- There is no legislation to clearly outlaw child neglect and psychological abuse.
- Reporting system of suspected child abuse has not been made mandatory.
- There is no child fatality or serious injury inquiry system for unnatural deaths and serious injury.
- There is no legislation protecting children from trafficking for forced marriage.
- The best interests of children in care and protection proceedings are not properly investigated or treated as paramount.
- The minimum age of criminal responsibility is only 10, contrary to international standards and far lower than many jurisdictions around us.
- The juvenile justice system has not been reviewed for a very long time.
- Lack of play space, and lack of age appropriate and accessible playgrounds for children in our city.
- Lack of appropriate channels for children to speak up their mind.
ADULT FIRST? is a bilingual guidebook which provides tips, international standards, real life stories on children’s right to participation. It is at the same time a story of an adventure between a little girl and an adult to help child-related professionals and adults to learn about Children’s Right to Participation and how to hear the Voice of Children clearly. The guidebook was published by Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights in April 2017, with the sponsorship of New World Group Charity Foundation.