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The children's rights movement is a historical and modern movement committed to the acknowledgement, expansion, and/or regression of the rights of children around the world.


Main article: Child labor

Thomas Spence's The Rights of Infants (1796) is an early English-language assertion of the natural rights of children.

In the USA, the children's rights movement was born in the 1800s with the orphan train. In the big cities, when a child's parents died, the child frequently had to go to work to support him or herself. Boys generally became factory or coal workers, and girls became prostitutes or saloon girls, or else went to work in a sweat shop. All of these jobs paid only starvation wages.

In 1852, Massachusetts required children to attend school. In 1853, Charles Brace founded the Children's Aid Society, which worked hard to take street children in. The following year, the children were placed on a train headed for the West, where they were adopted, and often given work. By the late 1800s, the orphan train had stopped running altogether, but its principles lived on.

The National Child Labor Committee, an organization dedicated to the abolition of all child labor, was formed in the 1890s. It managed to pass one law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court two years later for violating a child's right to contract his work. In 1924, Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would authorize a national child labor law. This measure was blocked, and the bill was eventually dropped. It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act which, amongst other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor.

Now that child labor had been effectively eradicated, the movement turned to other things, but it again stalled when World War II broke out and children and women began to enter the work force once more. With millions of adults at war, the children were needed to help keep the country running. In Europe, children served as couriers, intelligence collectors, and other underground resistance workers in opposition to Hitler's regime.

It should be noted the child labour was also wiped out in Europe and not just America, one such an act in America did not affect those of Europe. This act was a follow on from a similar one in some countries of Europe previously.


In the early twentieth century, moves began to promote the idea of children's rights as distinct from those of adults and as requiring explicit recognition. The Polish educationalist Janusz Korczak wrote of the rights of children in his book How to Love a Child (Warsaw, 1919); a later book was entitled The Child's Right to Respect (Warsaw, 1929). In 1917, following the Russian Revolution, the Moscow branch of the organisation Proletkult produced a Declaration of Children's Rights. However, the first effective attempt to promote children's rights was the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, drafted by Eglantyne Jebb in 1923 and adopted by the League of Nations in 1924. This was accepted by the United Nations on its formation and updated in 1959, and replaced with a more extensive UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

With the formation of the United Nations and extending to present day, the children's rights movement has become global in focus. While the situation of children in the United States has become greatly stabilized, children around the world have increasingly become engaged in illegal, forced child labor, genital mutilation, military service, and sex trafficking. Several international organizations have rallied to the assistance of children. They include Save the Children, Free the Children, and the Children's Defense Fund.


Several countries have created an institute of children's rights ombudsman, most notably Sweden, Finland and Ukraine, which is first country worldwide to install children at that post. In Ukraine Ivan Cherevko and Julia Kruk became first children's rights ombudsmen in late 2005.


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has attempted to outline a standard premise for the children's rights movement, there is no international standard which all children or adults adhere to. Two nations – the United States and Somalia – have refused to ratify the CRC; many that have ratified nevertheless have failed to operate by its parameters.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Likewise, there is a growing[How to reference and link to summary or text] international movement to refocus the child rights dialog towards expanding the rights of children, towards voting and full civic membership and participation (see youth rights).

External links

See also

  • Child camel jockeys - Modern Day Slavery of Children

External News Links


es:Derechos del niño
pt:Direitos da criança
Дечја права
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