Finding out about your rights as children and young people
Understanding your rights
The Welsh Government is firmly committed to promoting children’s rights and has led the way in this area. All children in Wales have rights, there are no conditions attached to them and nobody has the power to give them or take them away from you.
Children and young people have rights under the Human Rights Act 1998, but they also have rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). All Governments who have signed up to the UNCRC, including the Welsh Government, have to make sure that children, young people and adults know about an d understand the UNCRC.
What is the UNCRC?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) brings together children and young people’s human rights, up to the age of 18, into one international Convention. The UNCRC has 54 articles that cover many aspects of a child’s life and sets out the rights children are entitled to. These rights have come to be known as falling into three themes - of Protection, Provision and Participation rights.
Every child has rights whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or language abilities, regardless of who you are, where they live or any other status.
Articles 1 to 42 of the UNCRC set out rights about how children and young people should be treated so they are safe, educated, healthy and happy. The other 12 articles are all about how governments and adults should work together to make sure children and young people can access and enjoy these rights.
These rights are the things that are important to make sure children and young people:
- are safe;
- are not discriminated against;
- have their best interests protected;
- have the things they need to survive and develop; and
- have a say in decisions that affect their lives.
An introduction to the UNCRC
The law in Wales
The Welsh Government works to improve the lives of people in Wales and make it a better place to live and work. In 2011 the Welsh Government introduced the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. The Measure places two duties on Welsh Ministers:
- to have due regard to the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols when exercising their functions; and
- to promote knowledge and understanding of the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols amongst the public (including children and young people)
The duty to have due regard to the UNCRC means that Ministers must consider children’s rights in everything they do, but they must also think about how the decisions they make affect other things such as the environment, the economy or Welsh language and culture.
Another of Welsh Government’s jobs is to make children and young people aware of their rights under the UNCRC. That means we need to make you aware of the rights you are entitled to. It also means that we need to make sure there is a way for you to give us feedback on your rights.
Children and young people’s role in policy making
Article 12 of the UNCRC is about the rights of children and young people to express their views, feelings and wishes, and to have their views considered and taken seriously.
Children’s rights impact assessments
Wales is one of the few countries that has a formal way to look at how decisions affect children’s rights. When decisions are made, we carry out a Children's Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA).
Since January we have published all of these impact assesments - you can read them on GOV.WALES.
Giving us feedback about your rights
We welcome feedback and complaints from you because learning from what we do well and identifying areas of improvement will help strengthen our support for children’s rights across the Welsh Government.
Giving us feedback
You can give us feedback on children’s rights by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a complaint
You can make a complaint by completing the complaints form on GOV.WALES or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Learning about your rights
Children’s rights is part of the Curriculum for Wales, including teaching and learning to support learners to understand their rights and engage with the concept of rights more generally.
The role of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales
The Children’s Commissioner operates independently of Welsh Ministers, this allows her to review the activities of the Welsh Government and fulfil her role to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of children.
The Children’s Commissioner publishes a report each year, which contains recommendations about how we can improve the way think about children's rights.
Organisations that can support your rights
There are also lots of organisations in Wales that can support you in realising and using your rights, we have listed some of these below.
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
|Children's Commissioner for Wales||
The principal aim for the Children’s Commissioner is to safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of all children and young people in Wales.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales;
|Children in Wales||
Children in Wales is the national umbrella body for organizations and individuals who work with children, young people and their families in Wales. They work closely with the Welsh Government and other organizations in Wales to ensure that children's rights are at the forefront of policy and decision making. They also work directly with children and young people on a number of projects and have recently started a dedicated membership for Children and Young People.
|Welsh Youth Parliament||
You can use the Welsh Youth Parliament as the platform to amplify your voice, to talk about the things you want and need and to raise the issues that matter to you.
The Welsh Youth Parliament Members highlight and debate your issues at a national level, this is achieved by gathering views from other young people across the country and working with those with the power to make those changes.
There are 60 young people aged 11 - 18 who are members of the Welsh Youth Parliament. The issues that the Welsh Youth Parliament will raise awareness of, are chosen by young people themselves. The Welsh Youth Parliament will:
The Welsh Youth Parliament works directly with the Senedd to make young people’s voices heard, by those with the power to make change.
The NSPCC supports families in Wales who need help make sure children are given the best chance in life.
The NSPCC has service centres in North and South Wales that offer support to children, families and professionals. They support parents and families in caring for their children and provide therapeutic assistance to help children move on from abuse.
|Save the Children||
Save the Children works alongside children in more than 100 countries, including the UK.
Meic is the helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. From finding out what’s going on in your local area to help dealing with a tricky situation, Meic will listen even when no-one else will. They won’t judge you and will help by giving you information, useful advice and the support you need to make a change.
Play Wales works to raise awareness of children and young people's need and right to play and to promote good practice at every level of decision making and in every place where children might play. They provide advice and guidance to support all those who have an interest in, or responsibility for providing for children's play so that one day Wales will be a place that recognises and provides well for every child's play needs.
Their mission is “Campaigning for a play-friendly Wales and championing every child’s right to play”.
NYAS provides advocacy and legal representation to children and vulnerable adults when important decisions are being made about them. The children and young people NYAS work with might be in care, have a disability or special needs, be subject to child protection plans, have mental health difficulties or their parents might be separating.
NYAS offers a variety of services including: