Access to information
Children continue to be on the receiving end of disproportionate restrictions on their access to information based on the perceived need to protect them from materials deemed to be harmful. At CRIN we recognise children’s right to protection, as well as the fact that access to honest and objective information appropriate to their age and capacity is a prerequisite for all children’s rights and should be part of any child protection strategy.
The images below help to illustrate our work on children’s right to information in the face of censorship.
Blanket restrictions on children’s access to information ignore the wide range of ages and capacities that exist within the span of childhood and adolescence, which fails to cater to their different needs. Even if done in the name of protection, in practice they deny them information which can help them to make informed choices and contribute to, rather than detract from, their protection.
One of the most contentious areas of children’s access to information is access to sex and relationships education, especially when it aims to cater to children of all genders and sexualities. This is because policy decisions are usually made not on evidence or logic, but on the misplaced fear - often reinforced by political or cultural agendas - that honest and objective information teaches children promiscuity or irresponsibility. But in practice this approach hinders children’s ability to make informed decisions, identify sources of help, and puts their bodies and their health at risk in their first sexual experiences and beyond.
Disproportionate restrictions on children’s access to information feed into the idea that children are blank canvases to be painted by adults, rather than human beings with independent rights, views and feelings of their own. If we really want to protect children, we need to support them to think critically and to make safe choices based on honest and objective information. Undoubtedly, information is power.