The Universal Children’s Rights Day was established in 1954 by the United Nations and is celebrated on November 20 each year. This day is aimed at raising the awareness of children’s rights and improving the child’s well-being.
In addition, two major events marked the Universal Children’s Day: 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Child , and on the same day thirty years later, in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted, which the Republic of Macedonia ratified in 1993.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a document which has the highest number of ratifications from the states, declaring the firmly expressed will to improve the rights of children, especially expressed in the Convention provisions on the protection of rights and the possibility of participation in activities, as well as the introduction of minimum standards for health care, education and social protection.
The Republic of Macedonia is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Protocols: the Optional Protocol for the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflicts.
In the Republic of Macedonia, there is a Coalition of non-governmental organizations intended for monitoring the rights of children and was founded on the initiative of the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi in 1997. The Coalition is composed of civil society organizations that, in part of their activities, deal with the rights of children.
The need for the protection of children’s rights stems from the fact that they represent a highly vulnerable social group that can easily be exposed to abuse and violence. According to the UN, children are exposed to violence, exploitation, victimization by adults every day, but also to hunger, illness and lack of socio-economic conditions for healthy and active life in states that are considered poor or developing countries.
All children and young people have the same rights – they have the right to the greatest possible degree of health, the right to free primary education, to freely express their opinion and to be heard. Children and young people are entitled to good upbringing. Their parents or other tutors must not use force, and abuse is prohibited. Children and young people have the right to receive special assistance and protection in war and on escape. Children and young people have the right to be protected from exploitation and sexual abuse. They have the right to live with their parents and to maintain contact with both parents, if they live separately. Children and youth who are handicapped have the right to special support and promotion, as well as active participation in the social life.
In the field of health, special attention is paid to children. In the Republic of Macedonia, according to the State Statistical Office, in 2016 there were 162 024 children aged 0 to 6 and 308 811 children aged 7 to 19 years. The Public Health Institute of the Republic of Macedonia prepares an annual report on the health care of children aged 0 to 6 years. The report covers all cities and villages throughout the country. According to the latest 2016 Report, 60,743 children aged 0-6 years were covered with visits for systematic examinations and 31,639were visited for the purpose of a control check . In the counseling center there were registered visits of 64,198 babies up to one year, while the rest children who visited the counseling center are 47 229. In 2016, a doctor examined 1 167 877 children under the age of 6 years. From the Report it can be seen that in 2016, 3 403 children visited a psychologist, while on the speech therapist were 1 815 children. Compared with previous years, there are no major changes in the visits of young children.
There are no more or less important rights, there is no their hierarchy. Any right can in a given situation become more important for a single child or its environment. However, children’s rights do not mean absolute freedom to do whatever they want. The essence of children’s rights is to provide life and development in a secure, healthy environment, to realize their potentials and to contribute to the society of children and adulthood. By learning that they have rights, the children learn at the same time that they have the same rights to others. By pledging to respect their own rights, children develop a sense of responsibility and respect for other individuals and groups. Also, by taking part in decision-making, children can easily take responsibility for their application.
Teachers, tutors, health and social workers, lawyers, judges and members of all professions who work or professionally come in contact with children play an important role in protecting children’s lives. But perhaps the biggest and most important role is played by the parents themselves, but the very essence of the children’s rights should be familiar to the children themselves. By knowing and understanding of all the rights that they have at birth and guaranteed by the Convention, the children will mature in responsible persons who will be able to fight for the succession of their own and respect for others’ rights.