Take a Step Further for Children
World Children’s Day, celebrated on 20 November each year, is not a ‘token’ day to just celebrate children and the life and joy they bring us, but a day where we celebrate how far we have come in ensuring children worldwide are safe, well and fulfilling their potential. It is also a day that challenges us, wherever we live, that we still have further to go.
This year, it is 30 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations.The UNRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty ever and seeks to protect the rights of children everywhere. Much has been done but childhood is still cut short for too many. The 54 articles of the Convention are all linked, and equally important.
Below, we share four key themes, along with questions and ideas for your church. We encourage you to let yourselves be challenged, to get creative and to take action!
1. No discrimination: Children have the right to equality, to be treated fairly and with respect
Is your church child friendly? Are the activities and language used accessible and relevant for children and young people? How much of your service is planned with children in mind?
- One Sunday a month, take a line of liturgy, explore it’s meaning and together create a child-friendly way of expressing it. Slowly build up using your new liturgy.
- Encourage children and young people to lead worship.
- Set up WIFI in the church and a WhatsApp discussion group, so young people can discuss with one another as they worship.
2. Respect and listen: Children have the right to a voice
Do children and young people in your church have a voice? Are their opinions sought after, recognised and acted on? Are they listened to and valued as much as the opinion of adults?
- Ask children and young people what they enjoy about church and how it can be even better. Put their ideas into action!
- Learn how to use the latest technology from young people themselves. Ask them to help revamp your church’s Facebook page, social media or website.
- Set up a mentoring scheme, where each young person has an adult who can listen to them. Involve your safeguarding co-ordinator with regards to safeguarding.
3. No child is an exception: All children have the right to life, survival and development
Can children with disabilities participate in your services? Does your church actively support those who adopt or foster? Has your church welcomed refugee children to your area?
- Welcome, include and respect children with disabilities. Here are some great practical tips for what this could mean.
- Krish Kandiah, Founder of Home for Good, says, “If just one family from each church came forward to foster or adopt, and the rest of their church wrapped around them, we would meet the entire need in the UK now.” Consider making one Sunday a year ‘Adoption Sunday’ at your church.
- Set up a group who supports refugees moving to your area and connect with Suffolk Refugee Support
4. Bring children to the forefront: Make decisions in their best interests
Does your PCC consider how their decisions impact children and young people? Are children being taken advantage of without you realising?
- Write a vision and mission statement for children and young people at your church.
- Set up a Fairtrade stall – it doesn’t have to be every week!
- Abuse and exploitation thrive in darkness and new technology brings new challenges. Facilitate discussions between young people and adults or training evenings about issues such as Online Sexual Abuse. Internet Matters is a good resource.
One final thing...
Implementing any of these ideas individually is a great step to make. However, unless they are done alongside implementing a wider vision and strategy for children and young people, they may have less impact or sustainability. For strategic advice and support, get in touch with Hilary, our Diocesan Children's and Families' Enabler or Matt, our Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Officer.
We would love to hear how you've celebrated World Children's Day at your church or if you have been inspired by our ideas or have got your own. Get in touch to share your stories!
For more information on the UNCRC, including a poster in child friendly language, the work of UNICEF, and an open letter from Harriette Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director on her worries and hopes for the next generation, click here.