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Should Children Have The Right To Participate In Decisions That Shape Their Lives Or Should They Be Protected From Decision Making

1754 words - 8 pages

Option 2
Should children have the right to participate in decisions that shape their lives or should they be protected from decision making?

Children although need the protection and guidance of adults also deserve to be treated with the respect we all deserve, to play a part in key decisions that affect their lives. Although children aren’t as mature or responsible as adult’s they still have their own opinions and I believe that when it comes to decisions about choices that shape lives they should be consulted on a level that is appropriate to their age and level of maturity. The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child Act goes some way to outlining and trying to ensure this ...view middle of the document...

. The Act tries to create a universal approach to protecting children and insuring all children have basic needs both food and shelter and basic educational needs met. The act also tries to ensure that children’s views and choices concerned with their own lives are taken into account (Lansdown 2003). The problem with this act is it treats children universally and not on a more individual basis in relation to their culture and thus has received many criticisms (Burman, 1996). In the case study of Maya, a mother in Bangladesh who eloped at the age of 15 years old and who is now a mother herself. Maya wishes to carry on her education but her husband will not allow this and wishes her to remain at home with their child, this is going against the Children’s Right Act but this is the cultural expectations of a female once married in Bangladesh. Maya is now a mother and therefore has a new role and although she is still a child herself in her culture this is irrelevant. The Act has no flexibility for individual cultural, social and economic differences (Understanding Childhood, 2003. Pg. 156).

In many African communities children are not seen as individuals but as part of a family network and as such decisions are made for the child based on what is best for the whole family and not necessarily what is best for the child. (Iheaoma Obibi, pg.158). Both these examples of how children are treated demonstrate that the Children’s Rights Act appears to be based on Western culture and ideology. Due to the cultural restraint of the Act many countries who have signed the agreement- America and Solomania being the only 2 who haven’t, have devised their own regional charters. These Regional charters interpret the Child’s Act into a policy that is workable within their cultural needs and expectations (Understanding Childhood, 2003. Pg.159). The African Charter dealt with relevant concerns for the regions of Africa, covering issues that affected children within their regions. The UNCRC is a policy worthwhile as we need to protect those most vulnerable in our world and children are vulnerable but the Act could do with some adaption to allow for cultural differences to be included and thus making it more relevant to all.

The Act can be interpreted too far the other way and lead to people such as aid agencies trying too hard to protect children and not allowing for the child’s wishes to be taken into consideration. In the case study of Hiep- a street boy in Vietnam at the age of 14 who had been living on the streets for 2 years. Hiep had come to the city from a rural life to try and support himself and provide himself with an education whilst still managing to send some money home to help his family. The Vietnamese government set up a program to return children to their place of birth as they feel this is what is best for him, supported by an International aid agency. Hiep wished to stay where he was he was supporting himself and managing to provide himself...

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