Discrimination and the law

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Discrimination affects the rights of children and is therefore a legal issue. Without laws that prevent discrimination, there may be no way for children to stop others from treating them unfairly. Anti-discrimination laws are the first step to ensuring that all children receive the respect to which they are entitled. Laws that prohibit discrimination against children obligate adults to appreciate children's rights and teach children that they are equal members of society.

These laws are a starting point and while a strong legal framework is the backbone for preventing discrimination, it will do little to change children's realities if it is not used. For instance, if children do not know that they are entitled to equal treatment, if they do not have ways to tell the government that someone has broken the law, or if the authorities do not act on the discrimination they report, children will be no better off. If children are to benefit from laws against discrimination, those laws must be part of a larger programme to ensure that all children are treated equally by all people.

This section of the guide offers resources explaining the steps some countries are taking to prohibit discrimination and examples of successful legal challenges to discrimination.