DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHILDREN
Discrimination means the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. In other words, discrimination means treating people differently, negatively or adversely without any reasonable justification.
People should not be placed at a disadvantage simply because of their racial and ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Discrimination is simply wrong and against the law. Both children and adults experience discrimination at different levels but discrimination against children can be more severe than that against adults because children often have less social power.
Children face discrimination in most societies in comparison to adults because of their dependence on adults and adults’ reluctance to give them more decision-making power as they develop the ability to exercise it themselves. In addition to experiencing discrimination as a group, children face discrimination on other grounds, such as their race, gender, immigration status, disabilities, or a combination of such factors. Various laws have been enacted for non-discrimination of children.
Article 2 of the CRC prohibits discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the “child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or another opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or another status.”
It asserts, “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.”
Article 3 of the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child states that “Every child should be allowed to enjoy the rights and freedoms in this Charter, regardless of his or her race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status”
Section 10 of the Child Rights Act of Nigeria states that “A child shall not be subjected to any form of discrimination merely by reason of his belonging to a particular community or ethnic group or by reason of his place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion.” and “No child shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.”
Despite the existence of these laws designed to eradicate discrimination, it still remains rampant and difficult to stop. Acts of discrimination are easy to spot and almost everyone may have been guilty of some form of discrimination or the other.
For example, if children are called insulting names because of their colour or their age or because of some physical or mental disability, we all know that such behavior is discriminatory and degrading.
If we can learn to truly love others the way we love ourselves, discrimination will gradually disappear from the society. If adults can stop discriminating amongst themselves, it will be easier for them to practise non-discrimination for children and if children can see adults emulating non-discrimination, they will follow suit and practice it amongst themselves. Discrimination feeds mistrust, resentment, violence, crime, and insecurity, and reduces productivity. It does not benefit society in any way.