Declaration of Children’s Rights

“I call for a Magna Charta Libertatis concerning the Rights of the Child. Perhaps there are more, but I have found these to be the principle rights.”

- Janusz Korczak

 

The child has the right to love.

“Love the child, not just your own.”

The child has the right to respect.

“Respect the mysteries and the ups and downs of that difficult task of growing up.”

The child has the right to optimal conditions in which to grow and develop.

“We undertake to eliminate hunger, overcrowded conditions, neglect, and exploitation. Suffering bred of poverty spreads like lice – sadism, crime and brutality are nurtured on it.”

The child has the right to live in the present.

“Children are not the people of tomorrow. They are people today.”

The child has the right to be himself or herself.

“A child is not a lottery ticket, marked to win first prize.”

The child has the right to mistakes.

“There are no more fools amongst children than among adults.”

The child has the right to fail.

“We renounce the deceptive longing for the perfect child.”

The child has the right to be taken seriously.

“You will never understand children if you belittle their qualities. Who asks the child for her opinion or consent?”

The child has the right to protection.

“We undertake to protect the child from all forms of violence and abuse.”

The child has the right to respect for his secrets.

“If a child trusts you with his secret, be grateful, for his confidence is the highest prize.”

The child has the right to “a lie, a deception, a theft.”

“He does not have the right to lie, deceive, or steal.”

The child has the right to respect for his belongings.

“No matter how insignificant or valueless – they are not just bits of rubbish!”

The child has the right to education.

“One is truck by the fact that everywhere military spending is greater than that for education.”

The child has the right to a future on this planet.

“We still plunder the mountains, cut down the trees and destroy the animals.”

The child has the right to forgiveness.

“More often than not we are the harsh judges, rather than their counsellors and consolers.

The child has the right to protest injustice.

“We must end absolute authority. Always listen and try and see things through the eyes of the child.”

The child has the right to happiness.

“Let children drink the joy of the morning. Show them love, kindness and understanding – set an example.”

The child has the right to respect for his grief.

“Even though it be for the loss of a pebble.”

The child has the right to a Children’s Court where he can judge and be judged by his peers.

“We are the sole judges of children’s actions, movements, thoughts, and plans. I know that a Children’s Court is essential. I hope that in fifty years there will not be a single school, or institution without one.”

The child has the right to be defended in the juvenile court system.

“The delinquent child is still a child, who has not given up yet, but does not know who he is. A punitive sentence could adversely influence his future sense of himself and his behaviour. Because it is society that has failed him and made him behave this way.”

The child has the right to commune with God.

 

The child has the right to die prematurely.

“A mother’s deep love for her child must give him the right to premature death. Not every bush grows into a tree.”

 

This list was compiled by Betty Jean Lifton from Korczak’s writings How to Love a Child, The Child's Right to Respect and other works