Children are different from adults.
Children, therefore, need differential as well as
preferential treatment from and over adults.
This leads to the requirement of a separate set of laws
relating to children, so as to ensure justice to children.
Rights are an inalienable part of ensuring Justice.
Therefore, in order to ensure justice to children, the
first and foremost step would be to ensure basic
fundamental and other preferential rights to every
After ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’ in 1959,
UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of
the Child) came into picture in 1989.
UNCRC provides every child with the basic rights to
Provision, Protection and Participation.
The UNCRC was adopted by the UN in 1989.
With 140 signatories and 196 parties thereto, the
UNCRC came into force on 2 September 1990.
UNCRC vests in children across the globe certain basic child rights, irrespective
of the following elements:
Political or other opinion
National, social, or ethnic origin
Birth or any other status whatsoever
of the child or her/his parents
Right to equality (Non-discrimination) (Article 2)
Right to survival and development (Right to life) (Article 6)
Right to a name and nationality (Article 7)
Right to preservation of identity (Article 8)
Right to live with parents (Article 9)
Right to family reunification (Art 10)
Right against illicit transfer or non-return (Art 11)
Right to get her opinion heard (Art 12)
Right to freedom of expression (Art 13) and thought, conscience and
religion (Art 14)
Right to freedom of association (Art 15)
Right to protection of privacy (Art 16)Right to access to appropriate
information (Art 17)
Right to protection from abuse and neglect (Art 19)
Right to get adopted (Art 21)
Right to full and decent life in case of children with disabilities (Art 23)
Right to health and health services (Art 24)
Right to social security (Art 26)
Right to standard of living (Art 27)
Right to education (Art 28)
Right to leisure and recreation (Art 31)
Right against child labour (Art 32)
Right against drug abuse (33)
Right against sexual exploitation (34)
Right against sale, trafficking and abduction (35) or any
other form of exploitation (36)
Right against torture and deprivation of liberty (37)
Various definitions have been given by various expert
committees and organisations of the term ‘cyberspace’.
However, not attempting for an exhaustive definition,
we can define ‘cyberspace’ as ‘the global domain of
interactive as well as interdependent networks,
including the internet and other telecommunication
With the growth in technology, the cyberspace have
attained an ever-expanding and ever-growing state.
In this, children have come to play the role of
harbingers of the cyberspace due to the ease with
which they acquire the technical know-hows thereof.
Unfortunately, there are two sides to a coin.
With the advent of new opportunities, new risks are
also evolving in the cyberspace.
Apart from bringing tremendous positive
opportunities, the internet also operates as an
instrument for offenders and abusers.
The risks or threats to children in the cyberspace can
be broadly stated as:
Online abusing and harassing
Exposure to inappropriate content
Excessive usage leading to wastage of time
Vulnerably accessible by potential offenders
However, many experts have agreed that such
potentials of risks can be reduced by spreading
awareness and ensuring technical know-how to the
The existing laws or conventions do not specifically
recognize or provide for the rights of children in the
Still, the existing laws can be interpreted in a digital-age
specific manner to fulfill such needs.
Here, we’ll examine the rights available under UNCRC in a
So, the UNCRC needs a digital-age specific
interpretation in order to ascertain the rights of
children in the cyberspace.
For example, in the following slides, effort has been
made to interpret the three basic rights, i.e., the three
P’s of Protection, Participation, and Provision.
Protection against all forms of abuse
and neglect (Article 19), including
sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
(Article 34), and other forms of
exploitation prejudicial to child’s
welfare (Article 36).
Effort to prevent creation and
distribution of online child abuse
images, sexual grooming, online
dimension of child trafficking.
Protection from “material injurious to
the child’s well-being” (Article 17e),
“Right to privacy and reputation”
(Article 16) and right of child to
preserve his or her identity (Article 8)
Effort to prevent, manage and raise
awareness of reputational risks, privacy
personal data misuse (including
identifying, location-based and
Children’s rights to recreation and
leisure as appropriate to their age
(Article 31), an education that will
support the development of their full
potential (Article 28) and prepare them
‘for responsible life in a free society’
Effort to provide educational
technology, online information and
creative resources, and promote
digital skills in an equitable way (taking
into account relevant languages,
difficulties of access or conditions of
disability or disadvantage)
Participation rights: “best interests
of the child shall be a primary
consideration” (Article 3), Right of
children to be consulted in all
matters affecting them (Article 12);
freedom of expression (Article 13)
and freedom of association (Article
Effort to include all children in diverse
societal processes, including consulting
them on matters of education etc.
Also, the rights to access to
information without any discrimination
on the basis of sex, economic resources,
nationality, or physical disability:
special technologies to allow right to
access of disabled children
Among different segments of the society, Govt. plays a
major role as in strengthening the laws and also
providing appropriate digital resources.
Role of other segments also cannot be ignored in
ensuring an environment of trust and believe for the
Problems of in-equal access are multifaceted in origin
and must be dealt with accordingly.
Creation of help-lines, awareness programs and
hotlines for children may help in this regard.
Breaking cultural stereotypes may also be crucial in
order to ensure better implementation of the rights in
an equitable manner.