You have the right to find out things and say what you think, through making art, speaking and writing unless it breaks the rights of others.
Everyone has the right to express themselves, and Article 13 of the UNCRC makes it clear that this includes children and young people.
People can express themselves in all kinds of different ways, such as:
- talking out loud
- posting things on the internet
- 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 in whatever form they find useful.
Restrictions on freedom of expression
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 are exactly the same as the limits placed on the expression of adults. Some things the right to freedom of expression doesn’t let people do are listed below.
- 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.
Children and young people have the right to join groups where they can freely express themselves.
Children and young people should have access to a wide range of information to help them form their opinions.
Education should help children and young people respect other people's opinions and their right to freedom of expression.
Children and young people have the right to their own religion, language and culture if they are a member of a minority group.
Children and young people have the right to free time, and to spend it doing the things they want to do.
This article is a simplified version of Article 13 of the UNCRC. The full text of the Article can be found below:
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Creating Safety is a resource from Creative Scotland that provides guidance on child protection for individuals and organisations involved in delivering artistic, cultural and creative projects for children and young people in Scotland.
Having access to information is vital for your right to freedom of expression to be realised. Learn more about your information rights here.