As we approach our 30th year working for children’s rights, this year the UN has also marked 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This international treaty protects the rights of all children to be free from discrimination, violence and neglect. It has shaped our work from the start, and this year has been no exception.
One of the CRC’s guiding principles concerns the right of children to be heard. Whilst human rights apply to children as much as adults, children rarely have as much power: they can’t vote, they aren’t always included in decisions that affect them and the outdated term ‘children should be seen and not heard’ is surprisingly prevalent.
We not only exist for children who are most on the edge, but for 30 years our work has been underpinned by a focus on encouraging those children to express themselves, develop opinions, and for these opinions to be heard and taken seriously.
‘Seen and heard’ was the theme for our latest annual report as this year we have been especially struck by what children are capable of when they are given the space to express themselves, be listened to and take the lead.