Article 12: Listening to children and taking their views seriously

Article 12 of the UN Convention states that children have the right to be involved in all matters that affect them and to have their views taken seriously in accordance with their age and maturity. This applies to individual decisions such as their own health care. It also means that children as a group should be involved in matters that affect them, for example, how and what health care services are provided in their local community. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has identified Article 12 as a general principle that must be considered in the way all other rights are implemented. For example, in order to ensure that children’s right to health is fully realised, it is necessary that children are listened to and involved in their own health care. In order to ensure children’s right to protection from violence, they need to be listened to and taken seriously.

Children are entitled to make choices about whether or not they want to participate and to what extent. In relation to health care, for example, some children will want their parents to retain full responsibility for taking decisions. Some will want to share it with their parents. Others may feel that as it is their life and future at stake, it should be their responsibility to make choices for themselves.

My mum took me to the dispensary. I was afraid of the injection and wanted to run away. The nurse called some men who held me down by force. They hurt my chin but she didn’t care.

(From the consultation undertaken in Tanzania for the development of this module)

Article 5: Acknowledging children’s evolving capacities

Article 16: Respecting confidentiality and the right to privacy