Fundamentally, it means children have the right to be talked to in matters that concern them and that this right extends to providing the opportunity for feedbacks from them. Article 12 (1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989(CRC) provides, ‘States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.’
The foregoing provision is part of what is called rights of the child to participation. A recent UNICEF report shed light on child participation as follows: ‘Put into practice, participation is adults listening to children — to all their multiple and varied ways of communicating. It ensures their freedom to express themselves and takes their views into account when coming to decisions that affect them. Engaging children in dialogue and exchange allows them to learn constructive ways of influencing the world around them.”
Rights-based communication also connotes that communicating with children is not a choice; it is a right that must be respected in the best interest of the child. In working with children, there two kinds of approaches that are usually adopted. They the Rights-based Approach and Needs-Based Approach: the Needs-Based Approach reacts to the need of the child without a concrete plan as if it is doing the children a favour and whatever is done should be enough for the child it meets the needs of the child or not. The Rights-Based Approach on the other sees child care is a duty, which the custodians (primary and secondary) owe the child, which must be carried out promptly with a sense of mission and meticulous commitment in the best interest of the child.
The operating principle in the Rights-based Approach to child care is ‘the best interest of the child.’ Everything must be done dutifully done at all times in the best interest of the child. Thus the child and the custodians are referred to as ‘Rights Holder’ and ‘Duty Bearers’ respectively. We do not respect the rights of children as if we are doing them a favour. We respect their rights as a matter of duty. The reasoning is very sound, we invited the child to this world, he did not extend a request to be invited and it is only responsible that we make adequate provisions for his well-being.
Applying the Rights-Based Approach to the communication puts the custodians under the oath of his conscience to do relates to the tips I about to begin to share here as commandments that must be followed in season and out of season as long as communication with a child is involved.
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