| Current Toronto Time: 
Watching over children’s human rights

There is nothing more viscerally painful than news about the violation of the dignity, rights and personhood of a child. 

If you go to the UNICEF website, you will find The Human Rights Framework. 

Click on it to find a link to The Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

It lists 53 articles proclaimed by the United Nations aimed at protecting the inalienable rights of the child.

Many people, when thinking about the protection of the rights of the child, think about countries around the world where the violation of children’s rights have been widely covered by media. 

Through the media we also read and hear about incidences right here in Canada where children are being abused. 

As citizens in a democracy it absolutely behooves all of us to protect the rights, safety and dignity of all children and to report any and all forms of abuse that we witness, suspect or know about.

But what about the violations of children’s rights that might occur in settings like schools, playgrounds, shopping malls, community centres and other public places? School administrators often have to work with the Children’s Aid Societies to report suspected physical violence against children when children arrive at school with signs of abuse. These may be physical signs or sometimes extreme anguish resulting from mental, emotional, psychological or other forms of abuse. However, what happens when you as a parent or caregiver notice behaviour from an employee at a school, daycare or community centre, etc., against a child, and not necessarily your child or child in your care? 

These may be overt physical acts of anger and frustration or they may be more subtle like verbal abuse. If it is an institution like a school, daycare or community centre you know that you can talk with the principal or another employee and then ask if there was follow-through. 

However, when it is in a public place like a playground it requires our personal commitment to the rights of all children to take some form of action be it verbally asking for the behaviour to stop or making a phone call. 

Your action needs to be weighed by quickly analyzing the situation. 

If you are caring for a child you do not want to put that child in harm’s way by enraging the abuser. You may wish to enlist the help of other parents and use a combined voice. 

It is a difficult situation, but one that many people do encounter in public places. 

Thinking about what you might do if ever you encounter such a situation may possibly save a child in the future.

Many of the 53 articles in The Convention on the Rights of the Child have become enshrined in the laws of our country; some are not (yet). 

Article 30 is an interesting one. 

It speaks to the right of the child to use his or her own language and enjoy his or her own culture and religion. 

As Canadians, we know that the historical violation of this particular basic right of Aboriginal children in residential schools had very serious impacts on children. 

While certainly not as serious, the current practice of suppressing mother tongues in our schools may be a small starting point for you to begin the more serious and crucial conversation at your child’s school about the critically important matter of children’s human rights.

– DR VICKI BISMILLA


• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer.

Posted: Oct 2, 2017

October 2017



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