International Children’s Day, which is not the same as Universal Children’s Day, is celebrated annually on June 1. Although widely celebrated, many countries do not recognize June 1 as Children’s Day.
In the United States, Children’s Day is typically celebrated on the second Sunday in June. The tradition dates back to 1856 when the Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts, held a special service focused on children.
Over the years, several denominations declared or recommended an annual observance be held for children, but no government action has been taken. Past presidents have periodically proclaimed a National Child’s Day or National Children’s Day, but no official yearly celebration of National Children’s Day has been established in the United States.
The International Day for Protection of Children is also observed on June 1 and has helped elevate June 1 as the internationally recognized day to celebrate children. The International Day for Protection of Children became universally established in 1954 to protect children’s rights, end child labor and guarantee access to education.
Universal Children’s Day was created to change the way children are viewed and treated by society and to improve children’s welfare. First established by a United Nations’ Resolution in 1954, Universal Children’s Day is a day to advocate for and champion the rights of children. Children’s rights are not special rights or different rights. They are fundamental human rights. A child is a human being, entitled to be treated as one and should be celebrated as such.
two young girls in white shirts stand in front of a light blue wall with their arms placed around each other’s shoulders
Mankind Owes to Children the Best That It Has to Give
In 1925, the World Conference for the Well-being of Children declared June 1 as the day to draw the world’s attention to issues affecting children. The represented countries recognized that “mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give.” As a result the Conference adopted the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
In 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was based on the structure and contents of the Geneva Declaration and reaffirmed that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” This new declaration set forth 10 principles to safeguard children before as well as after birth and laid the groundwork for the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
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