Universal Children's Day 2017

Psychologists concerned that the violation of the rights of children affects children’s everyday lives, their future and thereby also the common future of our societies in general


The establishment of a Universal Children’s Day by the UN in 1989 aimed to focus attention on an important issue: Children’s well-being throughout the world.

The current situation in Europe and in the world gives numerous examples that the Convention of the Rights of the Child is not fulfilled. This concerns, for example, children living in poverty, for which often neither appropriate schooling nor nutrition is realized, disabled children often still deprived from equal worth and rights by exclusion, and children in flight, who often suffer from being deprived of many of their rights to which they would be entitled according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

According to Prof. Uli Wagner from the EFPA Board Human Rights and Psychology: ‘The violation of the rights of children affects children’s everyday lives, their future and thereby also the common future of our societies in general. Psychological research has shown that the violation of human rights for children leads to individual suffering and psychological trauma in children; it lowers educational success and thereby dramatically reduces their chances of participation in society and in employment. And, the violation of children’s rights can lead to feelings of despair for children and young people, with major consequences also for societies: As psychological research has demonstrated such experiences are associated with an increased risk of young people turning to violence.’

Children and young people are the greatest drivers for social and economic change as they can be innovators, seeing the world with new eyes. For their potential and creative opportunities to be reached they must have their rights protected and everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, professionals and the civil society.

Prof. Margarida Gaspar de Matos from the EFPA Board Promotion and Prevention adds that ‘Psychological knowledge can help to contribute to the building of safe and supporting communities and countries. This concerns many different things to promote integration in society, violence prevention, integrated education and improved health care. Psychological research and practice have developed intervention programs and demonstrated their effectiveness. That is, scientific psychological knowledge and professional practice approaches are available to overcome violations of the Rights of Children. The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations requests societies and politicians to use them.’

More on the Universal day of children’s rights can be found on the website of the United Nations.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 193 countries, is the most widely accepted human rights treaty. The rights include, among others, that all children have equal worth and equal rights, have the right to be protected from harmful experiences, have the right to child health care services and nutrition, have the right to education, and have the right to rest, leisure and recreational activities.

Contact persons:

Prof Dr Margarida Gaspar de Matos, University of Lisbon, mmatos(at)fmh.ulisboa.pt, phone +351 214149152

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Wagner, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany, wagner1(at)uni-marburg.de, phone +49 6421 282 3664