There are kids out there who are not as fortunate as you. Do you know about them? Do you feel you can do something to help them?

You might think math and history are gross violations of rights. But Human Rights is something more than being made to do homework and bathe regularly. As the UNICEF has declared, “Children have rights as human beings and also need special care and protection.”

Addressing wrongs

Unity is strength and nothing proves this better than the CRY assisted Children's Collectives, formed in villages and areas where young people are most vulnerable. Groups of children get together regularly to build solidarity among themselves, understand their environment and the struggles of their families and draw strength from each other to be more confident as individuals.

The Young Pillar Children's Club, formed with young people and World Vision, with the help of a Women's Self Help Group (SHG) rescued eight children from bonded child labour.

These children were working in beedi and match factories as bonded labourers because their parents had mortgaged them to the factory owners for money.

Recently a 10 children facilitated by World Vision India and India Alliance for Child Rights, presented a children's manifesto of demands to ensure their Rights to Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

It's truly your right to ensure your rights. Unite for the cause!

The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child confers certain basic rights on children universally. They include the Right to:

Survival - to life, health, nutrition, name and nationality

Development - to education, care, leisure, recreation

Protection - from exploitation, abuse, neglect

Participation - in expression, information, thought and religion

Right to Education

Anita (13) comes from the Baikaria tribe, in a remote village in Jharkhand. Till a few years back, the 22 families living in the village did not even know that the empty structure that stood outside their village since 1972 was a primary school. No one attended it and there were no teachers either. SATHEE, a CRY supported NGO, worked in that area and gave Anita and other kids 500 postcards to write to the Divisional Commissioner (DM) and the district education officials about the non functional school. No response was received for two months. So, Anita led a children's rally to meet the DM and other education officials.

Thanks to the children's efforts two new teachers were appointed. Anita supported the teachers by talking to parents and students about exam dates and distributing school books. She influenced others (specially working children) to join and remain in school.

Currently as the leader of the District Level Children's Parliament, in addition to her own school work, she continues to discuss education, health and child labour issues with other children. Her inspiration? “Children can turn the world upside down (in the right direction that is!)”

Right to education

Asmina was two when she came from Purniya in Bihar with her parents to Delhi in search of work. To make ends meet, Asmina and five other siblings, became rag pickers. Asmina would see children, dressed in clean clothes going to school. It was a world far removed from the dangerous dumps she had to scour every day. Buts she was determined to study. Her first school was the non formal centre started by Bal Vikas Dhara that served as a bridge for the never-been-to-school children. She did well enough to be sent to the municipal school where she was admitted to class two.

Today, Asmina is in Std V. Her family is only too happy to see the girls off to school everyday, instead of the garbage dumps. “I want to be a teacher when I grow up,” she says.

No to child abuse

At 13, Murti, said ‘no' to most things her parents suggested. When her parents insisted that she get married, she refused. She convinced her teacher to help her. She is an active member of the ‘Kishori Vahini' (adolescent girl's group). Her parents were poor, but Murti had her “Teacher didi” to advise her. Together they convinced her parents and today Murti is studying to be a teacher!

Sandhya Krishnan says :

Understand what your rights are and what constitutes a violation. Being asked to help at home does not constitute a Rights violation. When your parents give you chores, it is intended to train you to become a responsible adult.

Always remember Rights and Responsibilities go hand in hand.

Show initiative. Organise children's clubs and discuss issues with your friends before talking to an adult.

Make parents aware of what they might be doing wrong through acceptable means like songs, poems, plays or stories.

Raise your voice against behaviour you think is abusive but do so in a manner that is not self-destructive.

Please understand that in the case of academics and parental pressure to score more marks, you need to keep up your end of the deal by studying and working hard.

Don't aggravate the situation by being defiant in the face of parental anger.

Ban child labour

All she could dream about was football. But growing up in a slum in North Chenna, Shakti (6) was sent to work in a shop that packaged and sold fish. When she got home after work, a quick wash would suffice before she ran off to school and to play football. However, the family's poverty took its toll and Shakti was forced to drop out.

She joined the Slum Children Sports Talent Education Development Society (SCSTEDS), an organisation that gives children like her ,a chance to play football. This they believe is the first step in getting to know the children, many of whom are school drop outs. Shakti soon became a star footballer. Soon, Shakti was included in the under-14 State level football team. In the past four years, Shakti has played at both district and state level matches.