What are Human Rights?

Ever wondered why do we have human rights? And why do we have to know and practice them?


Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

Do children have Human Rights? Yes, Children’s rights are those rights found in Section 28 in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa and they form the basis for the best interest of the child in all matters affecting children. These rights aim to protect ALL children up to the age 18 years from harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation and they include the right to:

Here is the list of Human Rights for Children:

• A name and nationality from birth

• Family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment.

• Basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services; • protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.

• Protection from exploitative labour practices which are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age or place at risk the child’s well – being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development.

• Protection against detention except as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and to be afforded legal representation at state expense.


Chapter 2 of our Constitution contains the Bill of Rights which applies to everyone. Some of these rights which apply to children should be exercised responsibly by everyone including children themselves.

These rights are:

• A right to family care, love and protection and the responsibility to show love, respect and caring to others, especially the elderly.

• A right to a clean environment and the responsibility to take care of their environment by cleaning the space they live in.

• A right to food and the responsibility not to be wasteful.

• A right to good quality education and the responsibility to learn and respect their teachers and peers.

• A right to quality medical care and the responsibility to take care of themselves and protect themselves from irresponsible exposure to diseases such as HIV/Aids.

• A right to protection from exploitation and neglect and the responsibility to report abuse and exploitation.

Many children are neglected, abused, hurt, insulted and exploited. Anyone who denies you your rights is breaking the law. Our Constitution states that all people have a right to dignity.

This means that no one may abuse, exploit or hurt you, either physically or mentally. Children, let no one deny you your rights! If you or someone you know suffers any form of abuse, get help. Our Constitution protects you.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is equipped to help you. There are other individuals and service providers who can help such as:

• Child Line, Toll free 0800 055 555

• A responsible adult such as your parent, neighbour, teacher or priest • A social worker • The South African Police Services (SAPS) • A medical practitioner such as a doctor or nurse..


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