#4 in Children’s Parliament’s blog series on the foundations of a rights-based childhood.
Children’s Parliament uses the hashtag #itsallaboutrelationships. We do this because we want adults to understand that children’s human rights are about the child’s lived experience day in day out, at home, in school and in the community. At the heart of healthy relationships is trust, and as they say, trust is earned. Trust is the opposite of being let down. Trust is what binds us together.
In terms of the realisation of rights, as well as identifying and responding to infringements of the child’s human rights, trust is crucial. We adults are duty bearers, children must be able to trust in us to promote and protect their rights. It’s not that children don’t have the capacity or capability to advance their own rights, it’s simply just our job to make rights real. Children also need to know that if they feel unhappy, lost or lonely that they have someone to go to whom they can trust. When the child needs and wants help from an adult, trust means retaining some control (trusting the adult won’t take over), that confidentiality will be maintained (and sharing information remains within their control) and trusting that the chosen adult will react supportively, be there for them and do something to help.
Writing about becoming a critically reflective teacher Stephen Brookfield states that “coming to trust another person is the most fragile of human projects. It requires knowing someone over a period of time and seeing their honesty modelled in their actions”. When children talk about trust they too often use honesty as another benchmark of an adult they can go to. Children thrive, they flourish, when the adults around them can express their honesty and love. Children who do not experience nurturing, loving relationships with adults will find it difficult to recognise an adult they can trust.
To fulfil our responsibilities as duty bearers, we adults must understand that children place their trust in us. The realisation of children’s human rights depends on our actions, our behaviours, our expressions of respect and our belief in the human dignity of every child.
The Getting of Wisdom: What Critically Reflective Teaching is and Why It’s Important Stephen Brookfield
Co-Director, Children’s Parliament
For more information on the Children’s Parliament Investigates Bullying project please visit www.childrensparliament.org.uk/cpinvestigatesbullying