Article 17: Access to appropriate information


States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall:

  1. Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;
  2. Encourage international cooperation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources;
  3. Encourage the production and dissemination of children's books;
  4. Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous;
  5. Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.

Children need access to information from diverse sources to become well rounded individuals, and governments should encourage the mass media to help make this happen.

Children should also be protected from “harmful” information. But some States have subverted this notion to justify censorship. This not only firewalls children's rights and denies them information they need to make safe and informed choices, but also discriminates against others and stifles debate in society. The "anti-gay propaganda” laws in Russia, Lithuania and elsewhere are just one example of this.