“We want to expressly anchor the rights of the child in the Basic Law,” says the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. However, this intention was already stated in the contract of the grand coalition during the previous legislature. However, the corresponding legislative proposal failed last summer. Some have gone too far, others not enough.
Michael Klundt, professor of child policy at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, the reform has not gone far enough: it is important to explicitly formulate rights for children and raise their awareness. Anchoring the rights of the child in the Basic Law would ensure that civil servants, lawyers, teachers or social workers would be confronted with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children are experts in their own lives
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on four fundamental principles: the right to life and development, the right to non-discrimination, the right to the best interests of the child and the right to the participation.
Although the convention has also been in force in Germany since 1992, it is repeatedly violated, says Michael Klundt. You have seen this especially during the corona pandemic. Children and young people are experts in their own lives, which is often forgotten: “In many places they only appear as objects”, explains the professor of childhood politics.
When asked if participation also means co-determination, or just listening to the children, Michael Klundt replies: “I would be happy if there were many places where listening was the first thing, even just an acknowledgment that something was wrong.” He criticizes that. it is often an alibi participation.
Pension law also affects children
The goal of the Traffic Light Coalition is to involve children and young people more in decisions that affect them. Michael Klundt understands that this means, for example, that student organizations and youth associations such as the Federal Youth Council can participate in the discussions.
It is important “to also proactively involve children who tend to be quieter, who are not the first to raise their voices loudly, but who may have greater barriers to doing so.”
But what decisions should children and young people be involved in – outside of the design of playgrounds, youth centers or schools? For Klundt, the field is very wide: “Even with the pension law, there are good reasons to say that it also affects children.”
Michael Klundt thinks it’s possible for the traffic light government to enshrine children’s rights in the Basic Law. But he is also aware of this: “Just because something is in the Basic Law does not mean that all the problems will be solved the next day.
Michael Klundt teaches as a professor of child policy at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences and conducts research, among other things, on the topics of child poverty and children’s rights. During the corona pandemic, he examined the living conditions of young people for the left-wing parliamentary group. In March 2022, Klundt’s volume “Comparative Children’s Politics Science. Children’s rights and child poverty in times of Corona.”
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