Children and young people don’t have as much power as adults: they can’t vote, and they don’t have as much money. But Article 12 says they still have the human right to have opinions and for these opinions to be heard and taken seriously.
It says that the opinions of children and young people should be considered when people make decisions about things that involve them. Their opinions shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand on the grounds of age, but taken seriously with their evolving capacities taken into account. Article 12 also says children and young people should be given the information they need to make good decisions.
Article 12 is also concerned with making sure children and young people feel able to express their opinions. It says that they shouldn't feel their opinions will be dismissed or regarded as invalid because of their age. It also says that children and young people need to know about this right so that they can exercise it, and that adults need to know about this right so they don't dismiss it out of hand. As well as this, children and young people should be able to complain about any aspect of their lives as easily as adults can. They should have ways to complain about those in a position of power over them — such as parents, guardians or teachers — without an adult knowing, and complaints procedures should be easy for them to access.
The general comment is structured according to the distinction made by the Committee between the right to be heard of an individual child and the right to be heard as applied to a group of children (e.g. a class of schoolchildren, the children in a neighborhood, the children of a country, children with disabilities, or girls) — UNCRC Simplified Articles
Everyone has the human right to express themselves, and Article 13 of the UNCRC makes it clear that this includes children and young people. Part of this right of freedom of expression involves being able to find out information for yourself— so you’re able to share it in the way you want.
People can express themselves in all kinds of different ways, and the right to freedom of expression covers them all. These ways include things like: talking out loud, posting things on the internet, and writing things for a book or newspaper.
As other articles of the UNCRC make clear, a child or young person should be able to express themselves regardless of their religion or culture.
People should take special care to make sure that children and young people with disabilities can express themselves. One way they can do this is through making sure information is easy for people with disabilities to read, access and respond to.
There are some limits to freedom of expression. These aren’t just in place for children and young people— the limits set out in Article 13 of the UNCRC are the same as those placed on the expression of adults.
People can’t express themselves in a way that would harm the rights or reputations of others. For example, they don’t have the right to reveal private information about someone, or to say things about a person that aren’t true.
People can’t express themselves in a way that would threaten the safety of others. For example, they can’t tell people there’s a fire in a crowded building when there isn’t.
People can’t express themselves in a way that would hurt members of their community. — UNCRC Simplified Articles