Free book to help teenagers in London understand their human rights

Angelina Jolie with Know Your Rights and Claim Them! © Lachlan Bailey/Art Partner

Secondary schools across London are being given a free gift of a new book co-authored by actor and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie that empowers teenagers to know their rights, gain confidence and help to make a fairer, happier world. 

Free copies of Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth are being given to over 250 schools in London in a scheme funded by the Lightbulb Trust, and which is a partnership between Amnesty International UK and the School Library Association (SLA).

The aim is to help teenage children to develop the knowledge and confidence they need to stand up for themselves and others, as well as support school staff to have crucial conversations about rights and what they mean.

Jointly written by Amnesty International, Angelina Jolie and Professor Geraldine Van Bueren QC, one of the original drafters of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Know Your Rights and Claim Them is the first ever book for young people that clearly explains child rights and what they mean.

Child rights are freedoms and protections designed to help everyone under the age of 18 grow and flourish, though there is often a big gap between rights and reality. Ratified by the UK government in 1991, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) stipulates that all children and adults should be educated about child rights. With this project, Amnesty, the SLA and the Lightbulb Trust are taking steps to make this happen.

‘Vital guidance on staying safe’

Produced with input from children and young people, Know Your Rights and Claim Them makes clear what child rights are and why they matter. Covering issues from gender and racial equality to the right to freedom of expression, health, a clean climate and a sustainable environment, it gives young people valuable knowledge and, more importantly, the tools to help them claim what belongs to them and flourish.

The book also importantly celebrates the difference young activists have already made in every corner of the world and shows young people how they too can challenge injustice and support each other in times of need. It provides advice on peaceful protest, how to navigate the law, raise awareness at school and in the community, how to start a campaign and get those in power to listen. And it includes vital guidance on staying safe, keeping a close eye on their digital security and looking after their mental health.

Even though the UNCRC gives children the right to know their rights, YouGov polling commissioned by Amnesty in summer 2021 found that an overwhelming 83% of British children aged 8-15 said they know little or nothing about their own rights. Sixty-four per cent of children said they knew only a little about their rights, with a further 19% saying they didn’t know anything at all. Just 17% of the young people approached in the poll felt they knew a lot about their rights.

‘This is a very timely initiative’

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Amnesty International UK, said: “This is a very timely initiative to give school children something positive and empowering to focus on in challenging times. Children not only have rights, but they also have a right to know about them. We hope this book-drop goes a long way to informing young people about their rights and their power to claim them, and forge a fairer future for themselves and others.”

Alison Tarrant, Chief Executive of the SLA, said: “Children today are growing up in a world which is more divided and more conflicted than before – not just between countries, but in terms of social discourse and the threat of climate change.

“Understanding their rights is important as we try to find solutions and create a kinder, more empathetic society. We are pleased to be helping schools to discuss the topics within the books and help all children understand and implement their rights.”

Ben & Salome Holden, co-founders of the Lightbulb Trust, added: “At the Lightbulb Trust, we believe in the power of learning to change lives for the better. We therefore jumped at the chance to help spread the word of Know Your Rights by supporting this important initiative from Amnesty and SLA.

“This revelatory book ingeniously closes the most fundamental of knowledge gaps, by elucidating the rights of younger people. These freedoms are perilously seldom acknowledged – let alone understood or promoted – by societies the world over. They currently feel more crucial than ever to champion.”

Click here for more information about the book.

Author: Simon Weedy

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