The Children's Bill of Rights
April 20, 1996
We, Children from seven countries and three continents, having
communicated with each other over the Internet, agree that the following
are natural rights of Children all over the world, and hereby ratify them:
We believe that a successful society invests its best resources
and hopes in the success of its children. An unsuccessful society
ignores or maltreats its children.
Children are the future of our species. How a society treats its
children is a direct reflection of how that society looks at its future.
The Children's Bill of Rights proposes rights for children that all
adults on Earth should honor, so that we may help create the very best
future for ourselves and, in turn, our own children.
A moral and competent society is one that respects and upholds
the rights of its children. A society that fails to do so is immoral and
Articles of the Children's Bill of Rights
Section I: Articles that are implemented immediately
1. Children's universal rights
As compared to adults, children until the age of 18 have the
right to receive special care and protection.
Children all have the same rights, no matter what country they
were born in or are living in, what their sex is, what their race is, or
what their religion is.
2. Right to inherit a better world
Children have the right to inherit a world that is at least as
good as the one their parents inherited.
Children have a responsibility to think about how they will leave
a better world to their children, and, when they become adults, they have
the right and duty to act on this.
3. Right to influence the future
Children have the right to participate in discussions having to
do with the directions our society is taking -- on the large political,
economic, social, and educational issues and policies -- so that children
can help create the kind of world they will grow up in.
Adults have an obligation to communicate their views of these
large issues in terms that children can understand, and provide children
with the same information that is available to all adults.
Children have the right to understand how things change within
society, and to learn how to influence these changes.
4. Right to freedom of thought, opinion, expression, conscience, and religion
Every child has the right to express his or her opinion freely,
and adults should address that opinion with the child in every decision
that affects him or her. Children have the right to carry out research
to help form these opinions.
Children have the right to express their views, obtain
information, and make ideas or information known.
Children have the right to form their own views in matters of
conscience and religion.
5. Right to media access
Children have guaranteed access to all important communications
media so that they may communicate nationally and internationally amongst
themselves and with adults.
6. Right to participate in decisions affecting children
Children have the right to participate in all committees and
decisions that make plans and set policies that directly or indirectly
7. Right to privacy
Children have the right to privacy to the same extent adults have.
8. Right to respect and courtesy
Children should be treated with respect and courtesy by adults,
as well as by other children.
9. Right to an identity
Children separated from their birth parents at birth or at an
early age have the right to know that this happened. Children have the
right to know their name, who their birth parents are, and when and where
they were born.
10. Right to freedom of association
Children have the right to meet with others, and to join or form
associations, equivalent to that held by adults.
11. Right to care and nurturing
Children have the right to have nurturing and caring parents or
12. Right to leisure and play
Children have the right to leisure, play, and participation in
cultural and artistic activities. Children have the right to a enjoy at
least a few hours every day when they are free from worries.
13. Right to safe work
Children have the right to be protected from work that threatens
their health, education, or development.
Children have the right to have pocket money so that they may
learn to manage money.
14. Right to an adequate standard of living
Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for
his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development, no
matter how wealthy his or her parents are.
15. Right to life, physical integrity and protection from maltreatment
Children have the right to be protected from all forms of
maltreatment by any adult, including a parent. This includes but is not
limited to: physical abuse, including torture, violence, hitting and
slapping; harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco; mental abuse; and
Infanticide is prohibited.
No child shall be forced into marriage.
16. Right to a diverse environment and creativity
Children have the right to have many different things, people,
and ideas in their environment.
Children have the right to listen to music of their choice.
Children have the right NOT to have their creativity stifled.
17. Right to education
Every child has the right to education, education that aims to
develop his or her personality, talents, and mental and physical
abilities to the fullest extent, no matter how wealthy the child's
Education should foster respect for a child's parents, for the
child's own cultural identity, language and values, as well as for the
cultural background and values of others.
Children have the right to an excellent education in any school.
Schools will differ not in the quality of the education they offer, but
only in their philosophies of teaching, and what professional
specializations they stress.
18. Right to access appropriate information and to a balanced depiction
Adults have the obligation to provide children with information
from several different sources.
Children should be protected from materials adults consider harmful.
Children have the right to have reality presented to them in a
balanced and accurately representative fashion.
19. Right not to be exposed to prejudice
Children have the right NOT to be taught that one group (racial,
national, religious, etc.) is superior to another.
Section II: Articles that require social or national policies
20. The right to a clean environment
Children have a right to a clean environment (water, air, ground,
21. Right to a small national debt
Governments and countries must decrease national debt which will
have to be paid for by future generations.
22. Right to vote
Children over 14 have the right to vote on issues that directly
affect children, in all local, regional, national and international
23. Right to medical care
Children have the right to be kept alive and in the best health
and medical care science can provide, no matter how wealthy their parents
24. Legal rights
Children accused of crimes have at least the same legal rights as
No child shall be institutionalized against her or his will
without due process rights.
25. Right not to participate in war
Young people under 21 have the right NOT to go to war.
The Children's Bill of Rights
In 1996, several hundred children from around the world drafted
The Children's Bill of Rights. The Bill lists the rights that all
Children have so that they can grow up free from abuse, thrive in the
world, and participate in influencing the shape of their future.
Prevention of Child Abuse is Original Focus
Over the past several years, we have become increasingly aware of
the difficulty the world is having ensuring that children are brought up
in a way that enables them to thrive. Initially, such concerns focused on
obvious forms of child abuse: wars that targeted non-combatants and
children, inter-ethnic genocide, child malnutrition, diseased
environments, and social and even parental abuse. Efforts were made by
some countries, the United Nations, and a plethora of private
philanthropic organizations to tackle these abuses, and the first
pioneering notions of children's rights emerged. But the children,
themselves, had yet to be heard from.
As our understanding of these issues deepened, the concerns went
beyond abuse to address more systemic, inter-generational problems. Not
only did people become increasingly concerned with whether kids would be
able to flourish in today's world, but whether they would be able to
flourish to tomorrow's world, a world that will differ in fundamental
ways from today's, yet in ways that today we don't still fully understand.
Children's Rights Take On a Larger Perspective
In 1995, an effort was launched to address children's rights and
their roles in society from this larger perspective, and to do it through
the ideas, needs, and voices of kids themselves. This effort is called
The Kids' Campaign. The first project was to design a Children's Bill of
Rights. This was accomplished in the Spring of 1996 through the
extraordinary medium of the Kidlink, an Internet organization that brings
together hundreds of school children around the world and provides them
with a 'space' in which to express themselves and share their ideas
through a wide variety of projects.
The Children's Bill of Rights
The Children's Bill of Rights was drafted and ratified by over
650 children from seven countries. The Rights range from the traditional
abuse-prevention ones, to those that will ensure kids the ability to
influence the shape of their own future. The Children's Bill of Rights
does not ask adults or governments to ratify the Bill before it takes
effect. It is adopted by the children themselves, and serves as the basis
for their demand that adults treat them as partners in the processes of
Children, adults and organizations are invited to support the
Children's Bill of Rights, and may list your support formally, if you
wish, with the CBOR Secretariat.
The CBOR Secretariat
A Children's Bill of Rights (CBOR) Secretariat has been
established to coordinate activities surrounding the CBOR, including its
broad dissemination and the formation of strategic alliances with other
The Secretariat may be contacted by postal mail at
5504 Scioto Road, Bethesda, Maryland, 20816, USA
Or, via the Net, at:
The Children's Bill of Rights
may be freely reproduced and distributed provided it is done so in its
entirety and unaltered, and with this paragraph attached. As of April 20,
1996, children from 7 countries and 3 continents had ratified The
Children's Bill of Rights. If you are under 18 years of age and would
like to ratify the CBOR, please contact us at the above addresses.