‘It’s not like in Apartheid’

South African Children’s Knowledge about their Rights

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights

This study explored declarative knowledge about children’s rights in 67 South African children between 9 and 14 years old, using semi-structured interviews addressing the following questions:

What is a right? Who has rights? Do children have rights? What rights do children have? Why should children have rights? Can anyone take away your rights? Who can take away your rights?

Data were analysed quantitatively to examine age and gender differences. Qualitative content analyses explored salient themes. There were no gender differences for any of the questions and significant age differences only for the question: What rights do children have? Although the children’s responses shared some similarities with other research findings, their perspectives on rights strongly reflected their specific social context, especially the prevalence of crime and child abuse. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research and specific features of the South African socio-cultural landscape.

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