Child's Rights Act

SOS Children's Villages Nigeria is actively promoting and advocating the rights of the child.

What is the Child’s Right Act?

The Child’s Right Act, which came into force on 31 July 2003, is a law which incorporates all the rights and responsibilities of children and consolidates all laws which provide for the protection and care of the Nigerian child into one single legislation.

Nigeria as a member of the African Union ratified the African Union (AU) Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (AUCRWC) on 23rd July 2001.

What is the need for the Child’s Right Act 2003?

Children are the future of any nation. Therefore, they need to be nurtured and assisted to develop into responsible and productive adults, who will take over the running of the affairs of the society later. However, as children, they are physically, mentally and emotionally immature and, therefore, require special safeguards and care, including appropriate protection, both before and after birth, in order to enable them develop a full and balanced personality, within the family environment and an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding, in conditions of freedom, dignity and security. Such requirements make the child quite unique to the point that the normal rights guaranteed to adults are not specific enough to cater for these needs of children. Hence, the need for the Child’s Rights Act, 2003.

Benefits of the Act
The Act recognizes the rights of children, restores their confidence and self-esteem and improves their status. It will also enable children, including children with disabilities, to enjoy their rights fully, as it provides special measures for their care and protection. All sectors of the society, including government and the people, will benefit from the production of well-rounded and self-confident future leaders.

Basic Principle of the Act
The Act demands that in all actions concerning the child, his or her best interest, welfare and well-being must be the paramount consideration.

Who is a child?
A child is a person under the age of 18 years

What are the rights of the child under the Act?
The child is conferred with the rights to:

  • Life, survival and balanced development
  • A name and registration at birth.
  • Dignity and respect
  • Privacy, family life and parental care, protection and maintenance
  • Education: free and compulsory primary and encouragement of secondary and tertiary education.
  • Health and health service, leisure, recreation and cultural activities
  • Freedom..
    - Of association and peaceful assembly and thought, conscience and religion, with the necessary guidance and directions of his or her parents.
    - From all forms of discrimination
    - Enter into contract, only for necessaries of life
    - Protection of the unborn child against harm
  • Protection of the born child against..
    - Child marriage and betrothal
    - Tattoos and skin marks
    - Exploitative labour, except non-harmful labour within family.
    - Sale, hire or use for the purpose of hawking, begging for alms, prostitution
    - Sexual abuse and exploitation
    - Economic and other forms of exploitation
    - Exposure to use, production and trafficking in narcotic drugs and
    psychotropic substances.
    - Use in other criminal activities
    - Abduction, removal and transfers from lawful custody
    - Recruitment into the armed forces
    - Harmful publications

Responsibilities of Parents under the Act
Parents, guardians or others responsible for the upbringing of the child must provide the following for the child-

  • Care
  • Maintenance
  • Proper upbringing
  • Education
  • Guidance
  • Discipline
  • Socialization training

Responsibilities of Children under the Act
The Child must:

  • Respect his parents, elders and superiors at all times, and assist them in case of need
  • Work towards the cohesion of his or her family and community.
  • Offer service to Nigeria and contribute to the strengthening of the independence and integrity of Nigeria.
  • Contribute to the moral well-being of the society, as well as social and national solidarity.
  • Respect the ideas of democracy, freedom, equality, humanness, honesty and justice for all persons.
  • Relate with other members of the society, particularly those with different cultural values, in the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and consultation.
  • Contribution to the promotion and achievement of national, African and world unity and solidarity


Basic Principles of Children's Rights:

  • Every child has the right to life and be allowed to survive and develop.
  • Every child is entitled to name, family and nationality.
  • Every child is free to belong to association or assembly according to law.
  • Every child has the right to express opinions and freely communicate them on any issue subject to restrictions under the law.
  • Every child is entitled to protection from any act that interferes with his or her privacy, honour and reputation.
  • Every child is entitled to adequate rest; recreation, leisure and play according to his or her age and culture.
  • Every child (male or female) is entitled to receive compulsory basic education depending on individual ability.
  • Every child is entitled to good health, protection from illness and proper medical attention for survival, personal growth and development.
  • No child should suffer any discrimination irrespective of origin, birth, colour, sex, language, religion, political and social beliefs, status or disability.
  • Every child must be protected from indecent and inhuman treatment through sexual exploitation, drug abuse, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect.
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