A book, computer and letter "i" symbolising information all surrounded by a circle of black dots.

UNCRC Article 17

I have the right to get information in lots of ways, as long as it’s safe

Children should be able to access information they can understand on TV, radio, in books and newspapers and on the internet.

Governments should make sure children are protected from things that could harm them.

Article 17 of the UNCRC says children and young people should be able to access information, particularly from the media. They should be able to get information from many places— from their country and beyond.

This Article applies to all kinds of media, including:

  • print media― such as newspapers or magazines,
  • electronic media― such as websites, and
  • audiovisual media― such as radio and television programmes.

Information and education

Information from the media should form part of a child or young person’s education. Because of this, it should help them learn about the things listed under Article 29 of the UNCRC. These include:

  • respect for human rights and freedoms,
  • respect for their parents, cultural identity and language,
  • respect for the values of where they live, where they’re from and the other countries of the world
  • respect for the natural environment, and
  • preparation for a responsible life where they treat other people with tolerance.

The media should also provide young people with information about their health. It should show young people in a positive light, bringing attention to the good things that young people do and taking care to show people who might be marginalised – such as women and those with disabilities – in a way that is not degrading.

Everyone should have access to the media

Article 17 applies to all young people, and special efforts should be made to make sure everyone has access to the media. This includes:

  • young people whose freedoms are limited― such as those in young offenders’ institutions, and
  • young people who may find the media difficult to access, such as some of those with disabilities or for whom English is not their first language.

To help young people who may find the media difficult to access, media should be translated into multiple languages where this is possible. Media should also be available in formats that are possible for young people with disabilities to access.

Protection from harmful media

Article 17 also says that children and young people should be protected from media that would be harmful to them. This includes:

  • pornography,
  • media that depicts graphic violence, and
  • media that promotes irresponsible drug use.

General Comment on rights in the digital world

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has produced many General Comments that help people understand how the UNCRC works in practice.

Draft General Comment 25 specifically focuses on children’s rights in the digital world, including opportunities and State obligations around the right to information.

Days of General Discussion

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child facilitates Days of General Discussion where experts from around the world can discuss a child rights issue in detail. The reports of their discussions are a helpful tool to understand how the UNCRC should be interpreted.

Some Days of General Discussion relevant to Article 17 are:

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