November marks the start of National Children’s Month, as declared by the Council of Welfare for Children (CWC). This month-long event aims to promote and spread awareness on the rights of children here in the Philippines, considering the political and social climate they live in.
The Philippines still has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring adequate healthcare, quality education, and a bright future for Filipino children. In UNICEF’s Situational Analysis of Children in the Philippines, data show that 31.4% of children were living below the poverty line in 2015. A more recent study in 2017 showed that for every 1,000 babies born, 28 die before they turn five years old.
The figures may look bleak, but the fight 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 No. 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code.
In light of the National Children’s Month, below are the 12 rights of the child—and what adults can do to uphold them.
The 12 Rights of Filipino Children
1. Every child has the right to be born well.
It is the responsibility of the parents 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 as follows: a balanced diet, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, and proper healthcare. 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.
Protect Children’s Rights Every Day
Parents, guardians, and all adults should be vigilant in protecting and advocating for the rights of children. While this National Children’s Month is a gentle reminder for everyone to ensure that they are creating a better world for young Filipinos to live in the future, the battle must not stop at the end of November.
Let’s continue to be great examples to kids 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!