The first child rights 101 for politicians and political campaign organisers has been released! The new Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation publication draws attention to how children’s rights are violated in political campaigns and events, and makes recommendations to promote ways that children can actively take part and have their voices heard.
Amid the political hustle of the elections children might easily fall prey to political games and manipulation. Political actors often try to take advantage of children in their attempt to emotionally influence the electorate. Pictures of a candidates’ family in papers, or politicians visiting schools on social media, portraits of families voting for a political party at bus stops, student choirs performing at a political event, or student council representatives influenced by a political group are just some examples of the violations of children’s rights for political campaigning.
A child is not a tool, nor a decoration, but a right-bearing citizen. Exploiting children or using them to gain political advantage violates their rights. A child’s right to be heard on issues concerning them is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, children have to be granted the opportunity to decide, responsibly and freely, whether they would like to participate in a specific campaign of any given political party. The right to participate also provides that children may express their opinion collectively. Responsible adults support these efforts rather than exploiting them.
Before allowing children to take part in a political campaign one should ask whether it supports or violates the rights of the child. To do so, the Hintalovon Foundation’s publication aims to help politicians and responsible adults by highlighting 5 practical points to consider:
- Children need to be protected from manipulation. They cannot be the target of election campaigns.
- Children have the right to be properly informed on politics. They need to be supported in understanding the role of politics and party politics in shaping public life.
- Children should not be used for political purposes.
- Children are not public figures: use of their personal data and images may violate their rights and best interest.
- Children have civil rights and are entitled to participate in issues of public life that concern them.
‘If a politician cares about the well-being of children and wishes to demonstrate a child-friendly agenda, he or she should begin with respecting children. Children should be taken seriously and not taken advantage of as a campaigning tool. Public affairs belong to children, too. They have the right to represent themselves in them.’ – Barbara Németh, the author of Child Rights 101 for Politicians and Organisers of Political Campaigns
As the child rights ambassadors of the Hintalovon Foundation put it: ‘A child should not be involved in a campaign merely because they are a child, but rather because they have a message to deliver. If the children’s opinion and experience doesn’t matter, it is nothing but exploitation.’
Since the summer of 2017, the 14–18-year-old child rights ambassadors have been actively engaged in child rights education and representing them in various forums.
Children’s enjoyment of their right to civil and political participation, as well as their protection from political exploitation, is our common goal. Striving to achieve it, the Hintalovon Child Rights Foundation initiated the development of the standards of child participation in public affairs and in political communications for the local elections of 2019.
Learn more about the guideline for politicians.