Governments should make sure no one stops children from practising their religion or beliefs. Parents should guide their children in this.
Article 14 of the UNCRC says that children and young people are free to be of any or no religion. Their parents can help them make decisions around religion, but:
- a parent can’t force a child or young person to adopt a religion, and
- a parent can’t force a child or young person to stop following a religion.
No religious discrimination
Children and young people shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their religion. They should be treated the same as everyone else, no matter what they believe.
Freedom of thought
Article 14 also covers the right to freedom of thought. This is the right of a person to have their own ideas, thoughts, opinions and beliefs― and for nobody to be able to stop them from holding them. A person has the right to keep their beliefs private, and shouldn’t be forced to reveal them.
Freedom of conscience
The right to freedom of conscience is also covered by Article 14. This is a person’s right to refuse to do things which they object to for real moral reasons. Some decisions a child or young person may make that involve freedom of conscience are:
- becoming a vegan or vegetarian,
- refusing to sign up to the armed services, and
- refusing to drink alcohol.