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An ethical imperative
Children's rights to protection from violence, abuse and exploitation are clearly laid out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), reflecting a basic human consensus that a world fit for children is one in which all children are protected.

Article 4 (Protection of rights):
Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children's rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. When countries ratify the CRC, they agree to review their laws relating to children and to take all necessary steps to ensure the CRC's minimum standards are met. This involves assessing their social services, legal, health and educational systems, as well as levels of funding for these services.

Article 11 (Kidnapping):
Governments should take steps to stop children being taken out of their own country illegally. This article is particularly concerned with parental abductions. The CRC's Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has a provision that concerns abduction for financial gain.

Article 19 (Protection from all forms of violence):
Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them. In terms of discipline, the CRC upholds that any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable. 

Article 20 (Children deprived of family environment):
Children who cannot be looked after by their own family have a right to special care and must be looked after properly, by people who respect their ethnic group, religion, culture and language.

Article 21 (Adoption):
Children have the right to care and protection if they are adopted or in foster care. The first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether they are adopted in the country where they were born, or if they are taken to live in another country.

Article 22 (Refugee children):
Children have the right to special protection and help if they are refugees (if they have been forced to leave their home and live in another country), as well as all the rights in the CRC.

Article 32 (Child labour):
Governments should protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or their education. While the CRC protects children from harmful and exploitative work, there is nothing in it that prohibits parents from expecting their children to help out at home in ways that are safe and appropriate to their age. Children's work should not jeopardise any of their other rights, including the right to education, or the right to relaxation and play.

Article 33 (Drug abuse):
Governments should use all means possible to protect children from the use of harmful drugs and from being used in the drug trade.

Article 34 (Sexual exploitation):
Governments should protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. This provision in the CRC is augmented by the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Article 35 (Abduction, sale and trafficking):
Governments should take all measures possible to make sure that children are not abducted, sold or trafficked. This provision in the CRC is augmented by the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Article 36 (Other forms of exploitation):
Children should be protected from any activity that takes advantage of them or could harm their welfare and development.

Article 37 (Detention and punishment):
No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults, should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.

Article 38 (War and armed conflicts):
Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war. Children under 15 should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces. The CRC's Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict further develops this right, raising the age for direct participation in armed conflict to 18 and establishing a ban on compulsory recruitment for children under 18.

Article 39 (Rehabilitation of child victims):
Children who have been neglected, abused or exploited should receive special help to physically and psychologically recover and reintegrate into society. Particular attention should be paid to restoring the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

Article 40 (Juvenile justice):
Children who are accused of breaking the law have the right to legal help and fair treatment in a justice system that respects their rights. Governments are required to set a minimum age below which children cannot be held criminally responsible and to provide minimum guarantees for the fairness and quick resolution of judicial or alternative proceedings.

Article 41 (Respect for superior national standards):
If the laws of a country provide better protection of children's rights than the articles in the CRC, those laws should apply.





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