Governments that promote child rights, consider the best interest of children and youth when enacting policies and services, and foster meaningful child and youth engagement help ensure that young people are able to reach their full potential in supportive environments and that they become active, engaged citizens.
Local governments, rather than provincial or federal governments, most directly influence the daily lives of children, youth and families. Local government structures vary across the country; they include municipal, regional and other forms of local governance such as, school boards and parks boards, as well as the many other bodies that manage specific services. The policy and planning decisions that local governments make profoundly impact whether or not a community is child and youth friendly.
In addition, since young people under 18 cannot influence government through the voting process, it is vital that they have input in other ways. Child and youth friendly communities ensure that local government bodies advocate on behalf of and have mechanisms in place to hear and consider young people’s views, not just on child and youth issues but also on other community issues that affect them.
Children presenting to Richmond's Mayor and Council, 2012. Image by Christina Thiele
UNCRC and LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Article 3 is about what is best for children
Adults should always make a decision by considering what is in the best interest of the child.
Article 12 is about the views of the child
Children and young people have a right to participate in all matters affecting them, and those views should be given due weight “in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.
Article 42 reminds us to learn about rights
All adults and children should know about this convention. Children and youth have a right to learn about their rights and adults should learn about them too.
Articles 4, 7, 26, & 43-54 describe the role of the government
Children and youth have the right to have their rights made a reality by the government. They have the right to have a name and a nationality and help from the government if they are poor or in need. The government agrees to report out internationally on how well it is upholding these rights.
“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline.”
~ Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General, United Nations