Children's rights

Children's rights

Education, protection and survival

Every young person has rights

No matter who they are or where they live. These include rights to education, protection and survival. Nearly every government in the world has promised to protect, respect and fulfil these rights, yet every day they are still violated

The world’s first declaration on children’s rights was written by Save the Children’s founder, Eglantyne Jebb, in 1923.

Jebb's Declaration of the Rights of the Child formed the basis for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), an international statement that sets out fundamental rights for all children.

Almost every country in the world has signed up to the UNCRC, but many still fail to prioritise and protect children.

Children around the world still face poverty, disease, discrimination and exploitation every day. Many are out of school, used as cheap labour or recruited into armed forces. Millions face danger as refugees and many have been separated from their parents.

A girl attends the Save the Children Jigyasa centre, which she's been visiting for two years.

A framework for justice

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

There are many ways in which children’s rights can be violated. These are just a few examples.

  • 1 in 3 children under five has not had their birth registered, meaning they don’t have an official name or nationality.
  • In half the countries where records exist, more than 80% of children aged 2–14 have experienced violent discipline.
  • Child labour affects 168 million children and around half are involved in hazardous work.

Boboeva's story

Boboeva and two of her daughters.

When Boboeva's two youngest daughters were born, she didn’t register their births.

“I thought it was just a meaningless and useless piece of paper,” she said.

Later, at a women’s group supported by Save the Children, Boboeva learned that without a birth certificate her children had no official name or nationality. These are rights for every child.

“I realised that everything requires birth registration,” she said. “To get a proper job, enrol in school, get married, register children.”

After a discussion with her husband, Boboeva decided that they would get their daughters the paperwork they need for their future.

A regular certificate should cost about 15 Somonis (US$3), but Boboeva had to get doctors to look up the exact date of birth and travel to sub-district, district, regional and national offices in order to fill in all the necessary paperwork, which cost her a total of 3000 Somonis (US$300) for both her daughters.

Since registering her daughters’ births, a world of opportunity has opened up for Boboeva and her family. Now, she tells all the young women in the village to register their children.

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We’re working to make children’s rights a reality through our education, protection, poverty and health programmes and supporting organisations that promote and protect children’s rights.

We're also calling on all governments to recommit to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by focusing on three key areas:

  • Ensuring all laws fully comply with the UNCRC.
  • Increased government spending on children and ensuring that resources are being used effectively.
  • Establishing an independent ombudsman for the protection and promotion of child rights in every country, and setting up an international complaints procedure for the UNCRC.

How we're standing up for children's rights

Early marriage is on the rise among Syrian girls. We’re working in camps in Jordan and Lebanon to educate young people and parents about children’s reproductive rights. We’re also supporting youth groups to campaign on these issues.

As thousands of child refugees continue to flee Syria and other countries, we’re working in camps and along the routes refugees take into Europe. Our teams identify and protect children travelling alone, and help refugee children understand their rights and the services they are entitled to.

Children in Myanmar face significant child rights violations. We have been listening to children’s experiences and supporting child rights groups. In the run-up to the 2015 elections, we worked with UNICEF to put pressure on parties to prioritise children and give them a fair start in life.

As part of our education improvement programme in Ethiopia, we’ve set up child-to-child support groups in schools. They meet on a weekly basis and give children a chance to discuss their rights and raise concerns about issues outside of school.

By setting up child-friendly spaces, we’re giving children living amid conflict in Yemen a safe place to play and learn. Our teams help them learn about their rights, and give children the chance to make their voices heard.

Alongside partner organisation TASS, we’re teaching communities about children’s rights and child protection as part of a programme to prevent female genital mutilation (FGM).

Other issues we work on