The purpose of National Child Day is to promote awareness about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Government of Canada works collaboratively with provinces, territories and Canadians to promote and protect children’s rights, and encourages Canadians to celebrate National Child Day on November 20th.
The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty that sets out the basic human rights to which all children are entitled: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
The Convention also contains four core principles which include non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and respect for the views of the child.
Canada ratified the Convention in 1991. Canada is also a party to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention: the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (which Canada ratified in 2000); and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (which Canada ratified in 2005).
By ratifying the UNCRC, federal, provincial and territorial governments made a commitment to implement the rights recognized in the UNCRC. In supporting the Convention, Canada recognizes that all children should be provided every opportunity to grow up healthy and to reach their full potential.
A total of 193 countries have ratified the Convention to date.
In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under the age of 18 often need special care and protection that adults do not.
Children who are capable of forming their own views are entitled to participate and express their views in matters that affect them. For example, children should be given the opportunity to express their views when a decision of expulsion from school is under consideration. The views of children will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.
All children have the right to privacy and protection from all forms of mental injury or physical abuse. Article 19 of the Convention states that all children have the right to be protected from being hurt or mistreated, in body or mind.
While each of the rights contained in the Convention apply to all children, whether Aboriginal or not, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first human rights treaty to include specific references to Aboriginal children in regards to: access to information and mass media (Article 17), education (Article 29) and culture, religion and language (Article 30).
Canada must take appropriate measures to ensure higher education is accessible to all. One of the ways Canada does this is by provinces and territories offering students a variety of opportunities for educational scholarships and loans based on merit and need.
In Canada, when parents separate or divorce and it is necessary for a court to determine the appropriate parenting arrangements for a child, the decision is made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child.
Anyone 16 years and older may volunteer to join the Armed Forces in Canada, as long as they have not been coerced into joining, know exactly what they are volunteering for, and have obtained consent from a parent or legal guardian. However, they may not engage in combat if they have not reached the age of 18.