United against Prejudice and Discrimination
Every child has the right to be safe and free from prejudice and discrimination. Sometimes, however, children themselves unknowingly discriminate against other children basing their prejudices on race, religion, social class, colour, gender, background, obesity, disability, HIV status or other personal characteristics.
Name calling, poking fun, mimicry or not playing with someone because she or he is different are some of the ways children discriminate against their peers. Such behaviours can lead to stigma and social exclusion for many children. Worse, it can also result in abuse, harassment and bullying.
Non-discrimination is crucial to secure a child’s fundamental rights and freedoms. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legal treaty which Malaysia ratified in 1995, upholds that no child should be the victim of discriminatory acts; and that children are equally responsible for respecting these rights.
As a society, we must help our children develop positive attitudes. The responsibility to protect children from all forms of discrimination, prejudice and abuse, including bullying, is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and other adults in the community who are in contact with children.
Universal Children’s Day
Teach Respect, in honour of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, aims to empower adults and children alike to promote fairness, empathy and mutual respect in their communities.