Aim To explore the most reported relevant United Nations (UN) Rights of a Child by 100 adolescents in hospital.
Methods Five post-GCSE work experience students planning to apply for medical training found 100 willing adolescents in hospital to complete a questionnaire.
The adolescents were aged between 11–18 years and supervised by a responsible adult. The adolescents were presented with 40 UN Rights of a Child and asked to rank their five most important Rights. The work experience students spent an average of 20 minutes with each adolescent, supporting them in answering the questionnaire. Other questions included were designed to collect demographic data and whether they had been aware of the UN Rights of a Child previously.
The most important UN Right was ‘non-discrimination: The Convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities; whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from. It doesn’t matter what their culture is…. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis.’ Closely followed by ‘survival and development: Children have the right to live. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily’. 69% of the adolescents had not heard of the UN Rights of a Child.
Conclusions These results demonstrate that adolescents value ‘non-discrimination’ as the most important UN Right of a Child. The role of the healthcare system is to protect as well as care for adolescents. These results are paramount as they provide insight into the minds of adolescents hospital. Knowing that ‘non-discrimination’ is vital enables us to focus on maintaining equality and creating safe environments. Further work is needed to educate adolescents about the UN Rights and address the extent to which they feel these Rights are being upheld. This study is the first step to initiating change.