Human rights: Childrens rights

This activity is designed for students at the upper primary or lower secondary levels. It focuses on the United Nations (UN) document 'Declaration of the Rights of the Child'.

Curriculum Links

Links to the Australian Curriculum


On 10 December 1959 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a 'Declaration of the Rights of the Child'. This document was written four years after the UN 'Declaration of Human Rights' to define more clearly what children's rights are. An original version of the document and a plain English version can be found on the website Select Text Version>CyberSchoolBus>Curriculum>Human Rights>Resources and Links.


The Plain Language Version of the 'Rights of the Child' is given below. This version can be downloaded and printed or you may want to use the text to create an overhead transparency or a large poster for the classroom. The information can be used as a focus for discussion with groups or with the whole class.

In structuring the discussion:

  • ask students which rights they have in Australia
  • have them think about which rights are most important to them and why
  • read through the list of rights and clarify any unfamiliar words
  • involve the students in giving examples about what each right means
  • ask students to think about why this list needed to be written.

After discussion, use the 'Rights of the Child' as the basis for a book. Students choose one of the rights and either draw an illustration for it or write a story about it. Organise the format for publishing so both the illustrations and the stories can be combined into the same book. You may want to use the list of rights as chapter headings.

When the book is finished, the class could organise a book launch and involve the school and the larger community. Links could be made to ideas for action in the local community.

More Resources

There are several units from the Discovering Democracy School Materials Project that have activities and information related to this topic. At the upper primary level the units 'People Power' and 'The Law Rules' address aspects of human rights. At the secondary level there is a unit called 'Human Rights'. These materials were sent to all schools in Australia in November 1998.

United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child

  1. All children have the right to what follows, no matter what their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or where they were born or who they were born to.

  2. You have the special right to grow up and to develop physically and spiritually in a healthy and normal way, free and with dignity.

  3. You have a right to a name and to be a member of a country.

  4. You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services.

  5. You have the right to special care if handicapped in any way.

  6. You have the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help.

  7. You have the right to go to school for free, to play and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful.
    Your parents have special responsibilities for your education and guidance.

  8. You have the right always to be among the first to get help.

  9. You have the right to be protected against cruel acts or exploitation, eg you shall not be obliged to do work which hinders your development both physically and mentally.
    You should not work before a minimum age and never when that would hinder your health and your moral and physical development.

  10. You should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.

This plain language version is only given as a guide. For an exact rendering of each principle, refer students to the original. This version is based in part on the translation of a text, prepared in 1978, for the World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace, by a Research Group of the University of Geneva, under the responsibility of Prof L Massarenti. In preparing the translation, the Group used a basic vocabulary of 2,500 words in use in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Teachers may adopt this methodology by translating the text of the Universal Declaration in the language in use in their region.

This text is reprinted from the United Nations website at

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