Freedom of Expression – A Right of Every Child
According to Article12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, “The child shall have the right to freedom of expression, this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kind’’.
Children’s opinions must be encouraged by adults and should become part of decision making in matters related to children. Children’s views must be heard, either directly or through a representative to any decisions affecting them. Children must be provided with an enabling environment; opportunities to seek, receive and impart information towards developing skills to boldly express their views and opinions.
Freedom of speech and expression, among other freedoms, has been a fundamental right of every citizen of India as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under article 19. India, being one of the signatories of the UNCRC, article 19 of the Indian Constitution becomes all the more significant. At the same time, it is pertinent to understand that “freedom of speech and expression” is not absolute but has some restrictions. As such it is important that the “freedom” one is given should be used judiciously, for the good of self and others rather than abusing the said freedom for selfish and diabolical designs.
Every person, by virtue of being human, has worth and dignity, regardless of the person being a child or an adult. A child has the right to be valued and respected which will build a secure environment and positive growth within them. Children also have feelings and emotions just like an adult, so they should be given the opportunity to express themselves. Children can imagine and think as they mostly have beautiful and creative minds. A visible difference between an adult and a child is the way they express. If given the right opportunity, they may be able to do things in their own level or in their own ways, better than that of an adult.
Including children and listening to their opinion in regards to children related matters is a healthy practice to a better result/environment for the children; as a saying goes “who can understand children better than children themselves”. Thus, adults should not ignore them in matters of decision making related to children.
Through right to expression, children have the right to express themselves through any medium; they should have their own voice about their thoughts, likes or dislikes, etc. We should not oppress their rights. Children are the ones who will hold up the future generations and bring a change, for better or worse, depending on how adults engage them in the present.
So, let us all work together in promoting the rights of every child and uphold their worth and dignity, which can give a smile and bring a change in society.
Ankit Chhetry, Esther CVL Ruatpuii and Vanlalhriati Renthlei
CHILDLINE Dimapur, Nagaland 24×7(NIGHT & DAY)
DIAL 1098 (TOLL-FREE) if you see/come across any child in need of care and protection.