The new comprehensive EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee are major policy initiatives put forward by the European Commission to better protect all children, to help them fulfil their rights and to place them right at the centre of EU policy making. Both initiatives have been informed by extensive consultations with citizens, stakeholders and, most importantly, more than 10,000 children.
The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child has been developed for children and with children. Children should have access to information provided in a child friendly way so they can clearly know what their rights are and, in this case, what the EU plans to do for them. The child friendly versions of the strategy were co-designed by children and present the information in a digestible way for their readers. Children advised on the language, images and examples used in the leaflets. Moreover, the child friendly version of the strategy is accessible for visually impaired readers and can be accessed using assistive devices and technology.
The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child
Every child in Europe and across the world should enjoy the same rights and live free from discrimination and intimidation of any kind. In the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, the Commission addresses persisting and emerging challenges and proposes concrete actions to protect, promote and fulfil children’s rights in today’s ever-changing world.
No policy regarding children should be designed without their voices. Thanks to the efforts of leading child rights agencies and organisations, both the Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee benefitted from the input of more than 10,000 children. Their views were collected through an online questionnaire and other forms of consultations. The principle report following this consultation process was launched on 23 February 2021 at an online event with children, in which Vice-President Šuica, and Commissioners Reynders and Schmit participated. Child participation in the EU’s political and democratic life is one of the six thematic areas of the Strategy.
European Child Guarantee
Disadvantage and exclusion at an early age have an impact on children’s ability to succeed later. It means they are more likely to drop out of school and have fewer chances to find decent jobs later. This often creates a cycle of disadvantage across generations.
The European Child Guarantee aims at breaking this cycle. It provides guidance and means for Member States to support children in need, i.e. persons under the age of 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Member States should guarantee:
FREE AND EFFECTIVE ACCESS for children in need to
- early childhood education and care
- education and school-based activities
- at least one healthy meal each school day
EFFECTIVE ACCESS for children in need to
- healthy nutrition
- adequate housing
The European Child Guarantee complements the second theme of the Strategy on the Rights of the Child. As it puts Principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights on “Childcare and support to children” into action, the Guarantee is therefore a key deliverable of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan which sets out concrete initiatives to turn the European Pillar of Social Rights into reality.
- 1 in 4 children consider that their rights are respected by the whole society (“Our Europe, Our Rights, Our Future”)
- 29% of children aged between 10 and 18 years old reported the online use of personal data in a way they did not like, for example, misuse of personal passwords or the use of personal information with hurtful consequences. More than 1 out of ten children reported an increase of this experience during the first lockdown in spring 2020. ('How children (10-18) experienced online risks during the Covid-19 lockdown - Spring 2020’, JRC, 2021, pp. 13-14, 42)
Amongst LGBTIQ respondents aged between 15 and 17 15% said they had experienced cyber harassment due to their sexual orientation (A long way to go for LGBTI equality, FRA, 2020.)
Nearly 3 in 4 children between the ages of 2 and 4 regularly suffer physical punishment and/or psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers (Global status report on preventing violence against children, UNICEF/WHO, 2020.)
- 3% of children aged between 10 and 18 years old say they do not feel safe at home; 9% do not feel safe at school; and 8% do not feel safe online. ('How children (10-18) experienced online risks during the Covid-19 lockdown - Spring 2020’, JRC, 2021, pp. 13-14, 42)
- In 2019, 12% of global international migrants (33 million people) were children (Data on Child migration, UNICEF, April 2020).
- Over a third of children say they rarely or never feeling sad or unhappy. A fifth of children say they feel sad most of the time (“Our Europe, Our Rights, Our Future”)
- Between 1.3 and 1.5 million children per year are annually deprived of their liberty based on a judicial or administrative decision. There are more than 7 million children per year deprived of liberty. (UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (2019), p. IX and pp.260-261)
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