Topic 2: The Principle of Non-Discrimination

According to the Principle of Non-Discrimination, as explicitly defined in Article 2 of CRC, States are obliged to respect and safeguard children’s rights without any discrimination. Discrimination can occur in different aspects of a child’s life and development, but also in the provision of services that may affect access to quality education, health, rehabilitation, preparation for work and entertainment services (Commissioner for Children’s Rights, 2018). Children who belong to vulnerable groups might be affected even further and thus, experience more disadvantaged living conditions and lower levels of quality of life. At a pragmatic level, children who belong to vulnerable groups may not have access to several services provided or they may have limited access, without their actual needs being adequately addressed. As an example, foreign language speakers face certain obstacles within the formal educational system and they have restricted access to education, often as a result of inappropriate structures and/or lack of inclusive procedures. Consequently, these children often become observers rather than participants in the learning process, being unable to succeed or meaningfully take part in it.

Simultaneously, at an attitudinal level, based on the representations that societies behold, children of vulnerable groups may develop a very low self-esteem, which, in turn, will trap them into very low levels of quality of life. The identification of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of children is essential in developing mechanisms that prevent their marginalisation and ensures their quality of life. It should be noted that, despite the fact that specific groups of children may have higher risks of becoming vulnerable in their childhood, such as children with disabilities, children on the move, Roma children and others, vulnerability is not determined by specific aspects of a child’s identity; it is not an intrinsic ‘label’, but it is determined as a result of the specific social circumstances and/or obstacles that can affect the child’s situation during a particular space and time.  Lastly, legislation, policy and practices must ensure that no discrimination is exercised against children, so that quality of life be efficiently reassured for all children.