It‘s time to amplify children’s voice

For more than 30 years, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is in place. An international agreement signed by world leaders to protect and realize the rights of every child. Nevertheless, there are still too many children and young people in our world who are deprived of the basic rights they were promised. Far too many children and young people are denied the opportunity to be involved, to be heard and to participate in matters that affect them directly. [1]

A change is urgently needed

On 11 October 2023, Center for Girls held a workshop on children’s rights in Chiang Khong District. This workshop was attended by children representatives between 14 and 17 years old from three border districts along the Thai Laos border. The three border districts are Chiang Khong, Chiang Saen and Wiang Kaen.

Purpose of the workshop

The aim of the workshop was to create a safe community, review the situation of children’s rights in their regions, develop communication campaigns based on the children’s ideas and prepare the children’s representatives for their role.

The workshop offered the children’s representatives the opportunity to describe the situation in their districts along the Thai Laos border, to exchange with others and to report which children‘s rights are currently being particularly violated. Throughout the workshop, the focus was on respecting and valuing the opinion of each child. The children expressed their willingness to be vigilant, give advice and take a leadership role. Alongside this, activities related to children’s rights were reviewed, commitment to equality and the protection of children’s rights was expressed, and new friendships were created.

The meaning of safety for the children’s representatives

One of the topics raised and discussed during the workshop was the meaning and importance of safety. The discussion about safety included different perspectives on what it means. The children mentioned factors such as family, friends, community leaders and various places as sources of safety.

Within groups, the children brainstormed what should constitute a “Safe Border Town for Children” and presented their ideas. Common elements included the presence of adults, a safe family environment, less drug use and the availability of medical facilities.

Compared to the city they had designed together, the children rated their confidence in the level of safety in their living areas.

Some felt safe, while others reported issues of

  • violence,
  • drug abuse and substance use
  • neglect

in their communities.

Children’s rights that are particularly violated

The children identified situations in which children’s rights are violated and against which they want to take action, including physical violence, bullying at school, sexual violence and cyberbullying.

School bullying is the primary concern. The children at the workshop expressed their desire to stand up against bullying at school and discussed various aspects of the campaign.

The evaluation of a health survey in 2015 revealed the following:

29.3 % of students were bullied in the 30 days before the survey. Male students were bullied more often than female students (36.1 % compared to 23.2 %).

22.1% of those who were bullied in the month before the survey reported that they were mostly pushed, shoved, hit, kicked or even locked indoors. There was not a considerable difference between the male (26.1%) and the female students (17.1%). [2]

Thousands of children are being bullied and insulted by other children all around the world. Around 160.000 students prefer to stay at home rather than attend school for fear of being bullied. Much has been done over the years to reduce bullying in schools, but there is still much to be done. [3]

During the intensive workshop, further ideas were developed, plans were made, awareness was raised and a campaign for the protection of children’s rights was launched under the slogan “The Border Cities of Non-Violence against Children“. This campaign will take place during the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women and Children in December.

It was particularly important to give children a voice and empower them to address issues of violence, safety and children’s rights through active participation, collaboration and advocacy.

In conclusion, there is a need for more workshops where children are given a voice and have the opportunity to express their views, exchange and develop new ideas.

Disclaimer: Images are permitted by the children.

[1] Article on unicef: What is the convention on the rights of the child?
[2] Health survey in 2015: Global School - Based Student Health Survey
[3] Article on Bullying and How to Handle it - Thailand


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