Declaration of the rights of a child – Adult version

I was reading an old online travelblog of a woman who had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania, she posted the UN Declaration of the Rights of a Child, an abridged version. I didn’t realize there was such a thing (silly me) and looking them over makes me introspective.  I wonder how, though they’re given for children, how they might translate for adults.

1 All children have the right to what follows, no matter what their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or where they were born or who they were born to.

2 You have the special right to grow up and to develop physically and spiritually in a healthy and normal way, free and with dignity.

3 You have a right to a name and to be a member of a country.  I never thought about what it means to have a name and membership to something, and I never thought about it being a right.  Poor or homeless people, just like others  that a group is trying to ostracize, doesn’t really get a name.  They are “those people.”

4 You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services.

5 You have the right to special care if handicapped in any way.

6 You have the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help.

7 You have the right to go to school for free, to play, and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful.  (You have a right to develop yourself and learn to be responsible and useful.  What a wonderful way to reframe responsibility – you have a right to be useful.)

8 You have the right always to be among the first to get help.

9 You have the right to be protected against cruel acts or exploitation, e.g. you shall not be obliged to do work which hinders your development both physically and mentally.

10 You should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.”

When, in our adult lives, do these stop being rights? Rather, when do these rights “grow up,” so to speak, to fit an adult? I’m not saying these rights in their current iteration should be applied to people, but what is the grown up version of them?  Like #7, that “you have a right to be useful.”  I love that because people can derive such satisfaction out of being useful and fulfilling their responsibilities – and we have a right to that satisfaction.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. oh, she ventures
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 19:32:48

    Wow. This is truly so profound and worthy of being posted in every hospital, school and public building as a reminder of our duty and obligation to ensure these rights are granted to ALL children… and after that, all adults too! I also find it extremely disheartening to think that despite all the advances we have made over the past century and all the resources that we have (or hypothetically have), we continue to fall short in living up to this declaration.


    • Serafina Bear
      Sep 07, 2013 @ 22:18:13

      Absolutely. Something that really struck me about finding these rights was that they were written up in the first place. Which means they weren’t being given or followed. Something as simple and profound as to be safe from harm, the right to be loved.


  2. alisonwalsh93
    Nov 03, 2013 @ 14:23:15

    Thank you for this, I found it really thought-provoking. In a way it’s good to know that people have recognised how important these basic things are, but it’s also disheartening to think about how many children don’t have so many of these things. I also think it’s a wonderful idea to have rights for adults: just because we reach an age where someone says we’re old enough to work and vote and take responsibility for ourselves doesn’t mean we’re too old to need protection, help or the right to play. As for number 10, I think we could all do with reminding of that one now and then.


  3. Seraphina Quest
    Nov 03, 2013 @ 14:58:27

    Oh yeah, #10. 🙂 Thanks for reading.


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