Let’s talk to our children about human rights

Let’s talk to our children about human rights
Let’s talk to our children about human rights

Everyone enjoys public holidays, but it is essential to comprehend their significance. On Human Rights Day, South Africa commemorates the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, an event in which many citizens sacrificed their lives as they fought against the apartheid regime in order to secure the rights we enjoy today.

Ask any child what human rights mean to them, and you will probably hear “to be treated with respect” or “to have a decent life”. As South Africans celebrate Human Rights Day this month, it gives all of us the opportunity to help our children understand why we celebrate the day, and why it’s so important to us as South African citizens.

By helping our children understand fully and appropriately why human rights are crucial, we help nurture active, responsible citizens who positively contribute towards an even better South Africa, says SPARK Schools Head of School Achievement, Nkazimulo Zitha.

“In our fast-paced and changing world, we need people in our society who are intrinsically aware of how historical events shaped many aspects of our lives and provided us with power and privilege to contribute positively in the world. This concept is central to our educational model because fostering good citizenship means building a strong foundation through our core values of service, responsibility and kindness.,” Zitha says.

She offers six tips for parents to help their children get to grips with human rights:

  1. All children understand what rights and responsibilities are – and human rights are effectively a list or rules by which we live our lives. Let your children explore the rules of human rights by asking them to name a few and then read the bill of rights with them. www.concourt.or.za has an easy version of the South African bill of rights.
  2. Let them choose a few of the rights and discuss what it means to them. Ask them to choose one or more that is of interest to them or that they have experienced. These are not always easy conversations but talking about them makes them real for your children.
  3. Let them choose a human rights activist or icon and discuss their lives and the impact they have had on society. We have amazing activists in South Africa, ranging from Nelson Mandela to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, and Miriam Makeba.
  4. Encourage your budding activist. You can talk about the human rights your child feels strongly about, and then discuss how they can become involved in fighting for this right. Climate activist Greta Thunberg has shown that young people can make a huge difference.
  5. Make sure they visit some of South Africa’s renowned child-friendly historical sites. Most importantly, talk to your children about the way they themselves go about living out the bill of rights, and how they follow its guidelines in every interaction they have. Human rights start with each person.

“Citizenship at SPARK is built into the day-to-day lives of our scholars and our employees. We believe citizenship is about service and growth. Great citizens ask the right questions and challenge their thoughts. Participatory citizens have enquiring, interested minds. They are invested in what’s going on around them. Participatory citizens care and think independently. Great citizens are empowered, and confident enough to take part in their communities and that is the community of citizens we are grooming,” Zitha says.