By virtue of Republic Act 10661, the National Children’s Month in the Philippines, to mark the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989, is celebrated every November.
The month-long observance seeks to instill its significance in the Filipino consciousness and this year is led by the Council for the Welfare of Children, National Youth Commission and the Department of Social Welfare and Development with the support of the CWC Board member agencies.
This year’s 28th NCM theme is “Sama-samang Itaguyod Ang Karapatan ng Bawat Bata sa Panahon ng Pandemya”.
It focuses on Upholding Children’s Rights During the Pandemic, like the Coronavirus Disease of 2019, which complies with the national and local directives on the pandemic pursuant to Proclamation 929 from the Office of the President.
This aims to promote and spread awareness on the rights of children here in the Philippines, considering the political and social climate they live in.
Efforts in government and in the private sector notwithstanding, the Philippines still has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring adequate health care, quality education, and a bright future for Filipino children.
In UNICEF’s Situational Analysis of Children in the Philippines, data show that 31.4 percent of children were living below the poverty line in 2015. A study two years later showed that for every 1,000 babies born, 28 die before they turn five years old.
The figures may look bleak, but the fight, as many observers say, is not yet over. The key to giving Filipino children the best possible start in life is to educate oneself about their rights, as declared under Presidential Decree 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code.
In light of the National Children’s Month, it is only appropriate that we revisit the 12 rights of the child– and what adults can do to uphold them.
1. Every child has the right to be born well.
It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure they can provide a safe environment for their unborn child. This includes proper medical attention and care from conception, birth, and throughout childhood years in a newborn services unit or pediatric center.
2. Every child has the right to a wholesome family life.
The child’s first learning environment and teachers are their home and family. They are entitled to be a part of a loving family that will instill ethical values and morals in them.
3. Every child has the right to be raised well and become contributing members of society.
By raising them in a safe and loving environment, parents and guardians can shape the personalities of their young to be useful and contributing members of their respective communities when they grow older.
4. Every child has the right to basic needs.
The four basic needs of people outlined in the law are: a balanced diet, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, and proper health care. This also includes any other requirements to lead a healthy and active life.
5. Every child has the right to access what they need to have a good life.
This right goes beyond the basic needs and focuses more on the atmosphere of the place they will be raised in. A child’s needs must always be attended to so they feel the support of people around them, which in turn will build and strengthen their character in adulthood.
6. Every child has the right to education.
In an ideal world, every child should have the means to go to a classroom and have access to books and learning materials that can enrich their intelligence and skills.
7. Every child has the right to play and enjoy their youth.
Children have the right to engage in wholesome recreational activities whenever they wish and not be exploited for events that are deemed only for adults to do, i.e., intensive manual labor.
8. Every child has the right to be protected from danger.
This includes all hazards that could affect their physical, mental, and emotional states, such as removing them from dangerous living situations, preventing them from getting into accidents, or protecting them from the abuse of adults, to name a few.
9. Every child has the right to live in a productive environment.
Children should be surrounded by safe communities that inspire them to give back when they are older. This means staying away from bad influences and situations that can cause harm to their health.
10. Every child has the right to be cared for in the absence of their parent or guardian.
If the parent or guardian fails to fulfill their role, the State shall assume custody and care for the child, providing them with their fundamental needs for growth and development.
11. Every child has the right to good governance.
Children also have a right to be born under the presence of good governance that can inspire them to become a helpful and active citizen. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to get involved with politics but rather have an interest in being involved in political discussions for the betterment of their country.
12. Every child has the right to freedom and peace.
Last but not the least, every child is entitled to do whatever they want in their lives, so long as it contributes to the peace and betterment of the communities they are a part of.
This month, as in the other 11 months of the year, we call on parents, guardians, and all adults to be vigilant in protecting and advocating for the rights of children. The battle does not end on November 30. This is a continuing battle.
It is incumbent upon the government, the responsible adults, and role models to continue to be great examples to children and be conscious of our actions in making the Philippines a safe environment for them to take care of and pass on to future generations.