Are parents ignoring kids’ rights?

Parents who share their children’s photos, birthdays or where they live could be taking away their human rights.

This could affect the children’s safety and their ability to get into particular schools or universities or get a job, according to legal expert Associate Lecturer Cassandra Seery of the Deakin University Law School in Victoria.

The United Nations* is reviewing its Convention of the Rights of the Child and is ­seeking comment on the rights of children in the digital age.

Australia is one of the countries that has signed the convention, or agreement, on children’s rights.

The UN would like to update its definition of children’s rights to reflect modern life, which often includes parents posting details about their children online.The UN would like to update its definition of children’s rights to reflect modern life, which often includes parents posting details about their children online.

In a written submission to the UN, Ms Seery has explained the way children’s rights may be negatively affected by every milestone published online by their parents.

International research shows three in four parents regularly post photos and videos of their children on social media.

Although it was not illegal and children had no rights to stop it, Ms Seery said it was a violation* of their human rights.

“The truth is we don’t really know how this data might be used in the future and how it may impact on a child’s rights,” she said.

“For example, it has become increasingly common practice for prospective employers to conduct ‘social media screenings’. These processes could also be applied to children in a range of circumstances.

“Private education institutions may choose to screen parents’ profiles to determine the suitability of prospective* students, which may impact on rights relating to non-discrimination and access to education.

“These potential impacts could extend beyond childhood, leading to lifelong inequalities.”

Ms Seery said content uploaded to social media platforms “gives those businesses an immediate, universal licence* to distribute without being sued, and there’s no telling how widely it could be viewed or mined for data”.

Ms Seery wants Australian regulators*, companies and governments to look at measures such as online prompts before a parent posts a photo, changes to the Privacy Act* and mandatory* reporting for tech companies.

A study published by the Herald Sun earlier this month found children aged 13 and over want their parents to ask permission before putting photos of them online.

There are concerns that parents are posting too much detail about their children online and that may not be fair to the children.

WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS?
Human rights are a set of basic rights that everyone is entitled to, because they are human, regardless of where they live, where they are from, their race, religion, sex, language or any other status.

Human rights include the right to life and liberty*, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to education and many more.

The United Nations proclaimed* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to make clear what the fundamental* human rights are.

There are international laws that guard human rights and are in place to stop governments taking away people’s human rights.

In 1989, member states of the United Nations signed an additional set of human rights, called the Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

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