The solution

Children are human beings with rights, views and feelings of their own. No one would deny that children need to be protected. But disproportionate restrictions on children’s access to information feed into the idea that they are blank canvases to be painted by adults and fail to support them to flourish. This needs to change.

CRIN believes the ability to access information without distortion or censorship is critical to children's development and to the evolution of open and just societies. It is through information that children explore their own identity and relationships, participate in society and learn to stand up for their rights and those of others later in life.

Failure to promote tolerance through information from a variety of sources fosters intolerance. Protecting children's right to information is therefore not only fundamental to ensuring all other civil and political rights for children; it is the foundation of the rule of law and democracy for all.

The starting point for change is the law. Without laws there is no way for children to be able to claim their right to information. Laws protecting children’s right to honest and objective information should also obligate adults to treat children as rights-holders and equip all children - without exception - with the tools they need to make informed choices about their lives and the world around them. Where restrictions on children’s access to information do exist, it is critical for an open and just society that any restrictions are transparent, age-appropriate within the span of childhood, and decided collectively with civil society organisations, and children themselves.

National governments are responsible for making this change, but international institutions can support them to do this by setting clearer and stronger standards on the issue. International institutions, children’s rights advocates and the media can play a role in putting pressure on governments and supporting them to do make this change.

But first we need to know exactly what is happening. That is why CRIN monitors laws - proposed and in force - which restrict children's access to information in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The aim is to spark action to stop their passage or secure their repeal.