4.7 A children’s charter

Standards are important to measure how a hospital or health centre is achieving appropriate rights-based child-friendly care. Sometimes standards are not written in very simple language and it may be helpful to convert the key principles behind a list of standards into a more specific and easily understood ‘charter’ suitable for your location. This can make the standards easily understood by children themselves and make a clear link to children’s rights. For such a charter to be successful it is important to create one that is agreed on by practitioners and members of the community, including children.

Activity 4.5: Developing a charter

1. Think about developing a charter for children for your health facility. Add at least three points to the list below.

2. How would you go about involving children in drawing up a charter? Share your ideas if you are working in a group.

Children’s Charter

If I am seeking, needing or receiving health care I have the right to the following:

  • I have the right to the best possible treatment and care.
  • I have the right to be listened to and taken seriously.


From your work in the previous sessions on ensuring that children are enabled to participate you will know that given the opportunity children are perfectly capable of expressing their opinions. So, if the purpose is made clear and you use appropriate engagement methods, then children will be able to contribute.

If you have access to the internet there are lots of materials that have been developed to involve and consult children.


Also, Save the Children: So you want to consult with children? A toolkit of Good Practice


You will see in this example that the language is fairly simple to try and make sure the charter is easily understood by children. It would obviously need to be in an appropriate language. You could get a small group of children to work with you on writing a charter or children who visit could be encouraged to contribute things they would like to see included. Perhaps children could survey other children and draw up a list. A proposed charter could be tested out with the children in the community. You will probably have had lots of other ideas which you can share with your colleagues. The understanding of older children might be helped by seeing a simple version of the UN Charter (see Unicef, n.d.). In this way you can help children learn about their rights.

This kind of charter should be prepared with the involvement of other staff and preferably with people in the community so that everyone accepts and works with it. It is also likely that you would need to get the agreement of the managers to have the charter displayed on a wall and used actively in other ways at your practice.

For some suggestions to add to the charter see the list below:

An Outline for a Charter of Children’s Rights

If I am seeking, needing or receiving health care, I have a right to the following:

  • I have the right to the best possible treatment and care.
  • I have the right to be listened to and have my views taken seriously.
  • I have the right to be given information that will help me understand my treatment.
  • I have the right to ask for advice, information and support.
  • I have the right to be asked before anyone touches me.
  • I have the right to respect for my privacy.
  • I have the right not to suffer unnecessary pain.
  • I have the right not to be hit or abused.

At a children’s hospital in South Africa, a project was introduced to create a space to hear from children directly about their experiences in hospital. Children were provided with an opportunity to share their fears, concerns and hopes through a variety of methods including drawing and painting, making and talking through puppets, as well as group discussions. By listening to the children, it was possible for staff to gain a far better understanding and insight into how the children were feeling. Children highlighted, for example, their fears at night when sleeping alone in a bed in a large ward, their sadness when family members failed to visit, their desire for someone to talk to, the need to be able to play. The children identified simple strategies to improve the quality of their hospital life – having a favourite toy from home, photos of family members to look at when they were unable to visit, a commitment to celebrating birthdays, nurses available at night to provide comfort, and someone to talk to when they were feeling lonely or unhappy. These small changes can be achieved at little cost but with enormous impact on the overall well-being of the children.

If you have access to the internet [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] you might be interested to look at the video link to this South African project. It might help you do something similar in your own hospital to begin to find out what children might want to include in a charter of their rights.

Activity 4.6: Plan a charter for your workplace

Either on your own or in a group, decide on a plan to introduce a child friendly charter in your workplace. Include how you will involve children, families and other health workers in making one.

Although this session has provided some examples, every charter will be different if many people are involved in contributing to it. To finish the session make a plan for creating a charter for your own workplace and discuss it with your colleagues. Plan how you will involve children and make it meaningful to improve their experience of health care. There are other references at the end of the session that you could use if you have access to the internet.

Example of child protection standards