Today is international day for the celebration of human rights and this year’s theme is centred on mobilizing the youth to stand up for human rights. But how do we encourage the youth to fight for human rights when some parents discourage their children from freely expressing their opinion?
For the benefit of clarity, human rights according to the United Nations are inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. This article will be throwing more light on an aspect of human rights which I believe is lacking in children from this part of the world and why it is important to encourage it.
From an observational point of view, freedom of expression, which is an integral part of human rights is rarely encouraged in children who live in this part of the world. In some homes, children are taught not to speak their minds on issues even when it concerns them. They are only spoken to as a means of obtaining information and to seek their opinions on pertinent issues.
It is also deemed disrespectful to express one’s opinion as a child in the midst of adults. From personal experience as a child, I can’t count the number of times I was shut down when I expressed my opinions on important family matters which indirectly affects me as a member of the nuclear family. This has resulted in me shying away from contributing to important family matters.
Furthermore, the culture of stifling the opinions of children is a toxic one; it could potentially contribute to an even larger problem of raising adults who lack the confidence to speak up when it matters most. Children who are not allowed to freely speak their minds could grow up to become adults who are timid, lack confidence and allow wrongdoing to fester.
To this end, I strongly believe that children could be thought to express their opinion in a respectful and kind manner without seeming disrespectful to their elders. The onus is on a parent to create an enabling environment to encourage freedom of expression in their children. Here are few tips to encourage your child to freely speak their mind
Occasionally seek their opinion on some family matters that indirectly or directly affects them.
Encourage them to respectfully speak up when they are not comfortable with an environment they find themselves in.
Teach them to stand up for others who are not able to defend themselves.
Teach them to respect others irrespective of their race, gender, class or religion.
Lastly, empower them to report wrongdoing to appropriate authorities without fear.