Are children aware of their human rights?

Published: 26 November 2013 at 13:44

Anglia Ruskin-led research project stretches from Bottisham to Bucharest…

Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridgeshire County Council’s Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) service are collaborating on an EU funded research programme to examine children’s rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most ratified human rights treaty in the world.  The UNCRC gives young people over 40 rights, including access to services such as education and healthcare, and the right to grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding.

Led by Professor Stephen Moore of Anglia Ruskin, the CLEAR (Children’s Legal Education-Adapted Resources) project involves working with young people to understand precisely what they know about their rights. 

The research team in Cambridgeshire is part of a wider European network, which involves partners in Romania, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal, including Save the Children.

The researchers will create a guide, and accompanying resources, highlighting the cultural similarities and differences in the way young people experience their rights across Europe. 

Professor Moore said:

“We’re asking young people if they are aware of their rights and whether they know what to do if their rights are infringed.  We hope to learn whether children’s rights are becoming embedded in the fabric of society across Europe.
“Children in each of the countries are starting at a different economic baseline and this will influence the resources they turn to for help.  Young people will also have different priorities depending on the priorities of their society.”

The researchers have already carried out workshops with pupils from Bottisham Village College in Cambridgeshire.

Following the exercises, comments from Bottisham Village College pupils included:

“If we are used to working with them [the teachers] and they are used to working with us, like in school council or in sport activities then it will be much easier to talk to them if something is on our mind.”
“Often the adults don’t know what the children’s rights are and the children don’t know what their rights are.  Adults need to know as well as children.”

European partners taking part in the CLEAR project will meet at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge on Tuesday, 26 November and Wednesday, 27 November, to discuss their findings so far.  On Wednesday morning, some of the Bottisham Village College pupils will discuss their experiences, and the exercises they have taken part in, with the delegates.

The CLEAR project is funded by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.