Beeld’s article ”Leer ons kinders van die reg” or ”Teach us children about their rights”(14/04/08, p.8) by Alet Rademeyer is one be glad of because it brings children’s rights to the attention of the reader.
The article refers to research that was conducted by Unisa and a crime prevention initiative, Khulisa. The research shows that almost half of the children interviewed, between the ages of 11 and 17, did not know their rights according to criminal law. 79 percent of the 626 children told the interviewers that they feel a need to be educated about the police, court and prison system. This is an important finding because it suggests either a lack of information or a lack of communication on where to find this information. The publication of these figures may trigger action to change this.
The article does not focus only on the ignorance of children about their rights.
It gives them a voice by including the remark that participants in the research are keen to take on their responsibility to help diminish criminality and want to be involved in projects that aim to fight crime. A young girl is quoted as saying that “die enigste oplossing is dat alle mense beter word” or “the only solution is that all people become better human beings” (Beeld 14/04/08, p.8).
Instead of just stating a problem, this article also suggests possible solutions. It is extra praiseworthy in that the children are reported to have come up with solutions themselves.
By including children’s views, particularly on possible solutions, the children are not portrayed as passive subjects but as eager young people willing to take on their responsibilities. This challenges stereotypes of children too often seen in the media Daya, B., Vreenogoor, B., Bird, W. & Harries, G. (2004)..
While this article is highly commendable for bringing attention to children’s rights, it misses an important opportunity to educate readers. Having highlighted children’s lack of knowledge of their rights, the reporter could have explained clearly what some of these rights are.