We believe that a successful society invests its best resources and hopes in the success of its children. An unsuccessful society ignores or maltreats its children. This declaration states that the State of Montana, and all Montanans will do whatever in our power to enforce this document.
Children are the future of our species. How a society treats its children is a direct reflection of how that society looks at its future. The Montana Children’s Bill of Rights proposes rights for children that all adults within our State should honor, so that we may help create the very best future for ourselves and, in turn, our own children.
A moral and competent society is one that respects and upholds the rights of its children. A society that fails to do so is immoral and incompetent.
Articles of the Montana Children’s Bill of Rights
1. Children’s universal rights
As compared to adults, children until the age of 18 have the right to receive special care and protection.
Children all have the same rights, no matter what country they were born in or are living in, what their sex is, what their race is, or what their religion is.
2. Right to inherit a better world
Children have the right to inherit a world that is at least as good as the one their parents inherited.
Children have a responsibility to think about how they will leave a better world to their children, and, when they become adults, they have the right and duty to act on this.
3. Right to influence the future
Children have the right to participate in discussions having to do with the directions our society is taking — on the large political, economic, social, and educational issues and policies — so that children can help create the kind of world they will grow up in.
Adults have an obligation to communicate their views of these large issues in terms that children can understand, and provide children with the same information that is available to all adults.
Children have the right to understand how things change within society, and to learn how to influence these changes.
4. Right to freedom of thought, opinion, expression, conscience, and religion
Every child has the right to express his or her opinion freely, and adults should address that opinion with the child in every decision that affects him or her. Children have the right to carry out research to help form these opinions.
Children have the right to express their views, obtain information, and make ideas or information known.
Children have the right to form their own views in matters of conscience and religion.
5. Right to media access
Children have guaranteed access to all important communications media so that they may communicate nationally and internationally amongst themselves and with adults.
6. Right to participate in decisions affecting children
Children have the right to participate in all committees and decisions that make plans and set policies that directly or indirectly affect children.
7. Right to privacy
Children have the right to privacy to the same extent adults have.
8. Right to respect and courtesy
Children should be treated with respect and courtesy by adults, as well as by other children.
9. Right to an identity
Children separated from their birth parents at birth or at an early age have the right to know that this happened. Children have the right to know their name, who their birth parents are, and when and where they were born.
10. Right to freedom of association
Children have the right to meet with others, and to join or form associations, equivalent to that held by adults.
11. Right to care and nurturing
Children have the right to have nurturing and caring parents or guardians.
12. Right to leisure and play
Children have the right to leisure, play, and participation in cultural and artistic activities. Children have the right to a enjoy at least a few hours every day when they are free from worries.
13. Right to safe work
Children have the right to be protected from work that threatens their health, education, or development.
Children have the right to have pocket money so that they may learn to manage money.
14. Right to an adequate standard of living
Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development, no matter how wealthy his or her parents are.
15. Right to life, physical integrity and protection from maltreatment
Children have the right to be protected from all forms of maltreatment by any adult, including a parent. This includes but is not limited to: physical abuse, including torture, violence, hitting and slapping; harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco; mental abuse; and sexual abuse.
16. Right to a diverse environment and creativity
Children have the right to have many different things, people, and ideas in their environment.
Children have the right to listen to music of their choice.
Children have the right NOT to have their creativity stifled.
17. Right to education
Every child has the right to education, education that aims to develop his or her personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent, no matter how wealthy the child’s parents are.
Education should foster respect for a child’s parents, for the child’s own cultural identity, language and values, as well as for the cultural background and values of others.
Children have the right to an excellent education in any school. Schools will differ not in the quality of the education they offer, but only in their philosophies of teaching, and what professional specializations they stress.
18. Right to access appropriate information and to a balanced depiction of reality
Adults have the obligation to provide children with information from several different sources.
Children should be protected from materials adults consider harmful.
Children have the right to have reality presented to them in a balanced and accurately representative fashion.
19. Right not to be exposed to prejudice
Children have the right NOT to be taught that one group (racial, national, religious, etc.) is superior to another.
20. Legal rights
Children accused of crimes have at least the same legal rights as adults.
No child shall be institutionalized against her or his will without due process rights.
This document is based on a previous International Children’s Bill of Rights and was written by children from many countries, I’ve repurposed it for local use and inspiration