Helping children find their voice on China’s Children’s day

Did you know that, according the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, anyone under the age of 18 is still a ‘child’? June 1 is Children’s Day, a day on which in China, children are in the spotlight. On this day, Chinese schools usually organize activities and parents take their children out to play. Though the Dutch don’t really celebrate this day, Dutch children are, according to a 2017 UNICEF survey, the happiest in the world. And it might just be due to the fact that we take our children very seriously.

To enable children to understand news and complex developments, Dutch children can watch their own news broadcast called the ‘Youth News” (Jeugdjournaal). The Netherlands was one of the first countries worldwide to introduce this, only second to the UK. Another typically Dutch children's show is the 'Klokhuis' (called after the core of an apple). This show explains difficult concepts with educational reports, songs and fun animations. Their topics range from train maintenance to divorce or national parks.

Poster Kindertelefoon

You can talk to the Children's Phone about anything

Advising and supporting children anonymously

But keeping our children happy is also about protecting children when things should’ve gone differently. One such initiative, the Children’s Phone is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. At times, children may feel they don’t know who to reach out to. Whether it’s trouble at school, or just feelings they don’t know how to cope with, the Children’s Phone is there to help. The initiative consists of a team of almost 500 volunteers, who help guide children in discovering and coping with emotions. Besides ‘adult’ volunteers the NGO also has ‘young’ volunteers aged under 18. Besides a the telephone line, children can also chat about their questions or feelings and there’s also a forum for peer-to-peer advice. Questions can range from innocent advice, for instance how to tell your parents you really don’t like that dog they bought, to cries for help in abusive families. Calls and chats are always anonymous, the number never shows up on the phone bill, and the NGO’s volunteers have about 400 conversations daily.

Monitoring adherence to children’s rights

The Netherlands also has its own Children’s Ombudsman, an official who monitors whether children’s rights are adhered to in the Netherlands. The ombudsman is appointed to raise issues and provide advice regarding child welfare in both the central and local government but also private organizations in education, childcare, child welfare and health care. The UN’s Convention of the Rights of the Child lays the foundation of the working area of the Children’s Ombudsman, which includes for instance the right to education, protection against discrimination and the right to decide on their own religion or beliefs. The UN’s Convention of the Rights of the Child is also an important theme in the Netherlands’ foreign policy.

Whether it’s China, the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world, let’s aim to make every day children’s day!