The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

In the 21st century, the war on drug has been an acceptable aspect of global political speechifying for parties across the political field. Often, drug users have been deviants responsible for a number of social problems that range from spread of crime, HIV, to the corruption of children’s behaviour. In most countries, when young people and children are seen with drugs they are funnelled by the criminal justice system instead of being given the support of health intervention. Among children, overdose is a leading cause of premature death in most countries. Indeed, drug policies violate children rights in various ways in respect to the convention of rights of children. As noted, some groups of children are more vulnerable to drug abuse such as street children and those with disabilities. In most cases, these children turn to alcohol and drugs, which severely damage their social development and mental health. In most countries, the primary focus of The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is to issue procedures and policies that notify protective services and safe care for newborns mostly affected by prenatal drug exposure. In response to this, most states have expanded on their civil definition of children exposed to drug abuse. In respect to the convention of children’s rights there have been various rules governing development and survival of the child.


Quintessentially, the UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child (UNCRC) has been in existence for more than twenty years. In all decades, there has been little effort carried in the analysis of the international obligation of the drug abuse among children. According to Veerman (2010), the UN convention on the child’s rights came into being in 1989. Globally, governments promised children their rights on what they needed to grow, survive, and accomplished their potential. The convention recognized the children’s rights as any individual less than 18 years. It pointed out in details, what every child requires to have a fulfilled childhood. Up-to-date, it integrates children’s economic, cultural, and social rights, political and civil right, and protection rights. It majors on the underlying principle of the suitable treatment under law, ample standard of living, and protection against exploitation and abuse. The UNCRC adopts a holistic and integrated approach to the children’s rights against drug abuse. Moreover, these rights interact with one another to create a dynamic aspect of an integrated document that enhances child development and survival.

In the article, The Ageing of the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child 2010, Veerman presents his thoughts on the U.N convention on children’s rights. In his article, he argues that, the convention on the child’s rights no longer include the right to management for drug addiction. For instance, in the Article 33, protection from the illicit drugs is too weak for adolescents and children of the 21st century. In this context, the author presents his proposals on the review of children’s rights as outlined in The Convention of the Child’s Rights. Article 33 obligates States to respond appropriately in protecting children from the use of drugs and the use of children in trafficking of drug substances. This is the only article in the UN human rights that majors on the explicitly of the drug use. This article takes into account the right to life, social security, freedom from violence and discrimination, and right to education. In turn, this creates a platform for protection against drug use and participation of children in the drug trade.

The article, Child Rights Information Network 2010, proceeds by exploring various children’s rights in relation to drug abuse as outlined in the convention of children’s rights. Article 6 stresses on the right to life, development, and survival. In this case, Ralf, Joanne, Joseph, Stefan & Chris (n.d) argue that, if a child dies because of overdose or infection then, there may be violation of child’s rights. The article creates a strong foundation of maximum protection that augments development and survival of the child. Article 24 emphasizes on the right to health and facilities for the right treatment. It persuades States to take all necessary precautions for the control, treatment, and prevention of epidemic diseases triggered by drug abuse. At this point, the article points out that, the use of drugs and alcohol reduce control over sexual conduct, and as a result, increases the vulnerability of sexual transmitted diseases. The article notes the need for deep understanding of drug use among children, and the impact that emerge from violations of children’s rights.

The right of children to access suitable information is fundamental if states parties are to promote programmes and policies of the health related aspects on drug abuse. In the article 17, State parties should offer appropriate and accurate information on protecting children’s health and development. A child should have the right to access information on the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or any other substance. Typically, the Committee in relation to children’s rights (CRC) emphasises that, all decisions in the health care sector should administered to the best interest of the child as stated in the article 37 (Kiersey & Hayes, 2010). In this case, drug overdose is most common among young children, which can be either intentional or accidental. Whichever the case, it violates children’s rights in that the range of drug use may be toxic, leading to negative health impacts. Drug overdoses in children younger than six years may occur when someone accidentally leaves drugs within their reach.

In a recent article, Kanneh (2011) argue that, health care sectors should ensure children receive right dose and drug at the right time, routine, and intervals. The observation of these rights ensures that children are safeguard from drug abuse and reactions that lead to negative health effects. The department of health care in various countries have guidelines that implement effective healthcare. In summary, the guidelines obligate healthcare professionals to carry out their duties effectively in the way that promote wellbeing. The guidelines designed to assist health professionals understand what drugs to use at different conditions. Providing good care to children is paramount in enhancing suitable survival and development. As mentioned, drug overdose is among the leading cause among children as reviewed in a recent article by Warner (2011). This article reveals that, each year more than 70, 000 children in the U.S are in the emergency rooms because of overdose they got when caregiver or parent was not looking. The risks increases when doctors accidentally prescribe drugs that do not ensure the child’s safety. With this in mind, the UN convention on the rights of the child obligates the state and the government to protect children against the stated drug abuse.

The problem of drug abuse among children is an alarming aspect to the adults because they cannot accurately map it in that, making the sale and production of illegal drugs is not enough. While young children are not substance abusers, they may require protection where family members and friends are abusers and are at high exposure to drugs. In such cases, legal measures are required to protect children from such exposure borne in mind; it may lead to severe consequences of drug or alcohol abuse and at a high risk of early initiation to substance abuse. In this regard, the Committee on Children’s Rights raises a concern on the number of children who consume alcohol and drugs because of adults or their parents’ substance abuse. This exposure may attribute to severe effects to the child’s future such as engaging into crime and becoming drug addicts. Children of drug user’s parents are likely to have mental and behavioural health difficulties. Environmental and psychosocial risk factors linked with parental drug usage compounds to children’s vulnerability. Article 19 recognises the child’s right to be secluded from mistreatment and hurt of the mind or body. This enshrines children from environment exposure of drug abuse for the benefit of the child.

A child has the right to be in a safe home that promotes his or her wellbeing and if a parent fails to promote such, he or she is imprisoned. In the article, Parental Drug Use As Child Abuse 2009,Child Welfare information Gateway affirm that, there is an increasing concern of the negative effects on children when family members or parents abuse drugs or alcohol. The article outline specific measures considered as child neglect or abuse in some States. These include manufacturing drug in a child’s premise, exposing a child to chemicals of the substance, distributing, giving, or selling illegal drug to a child, and exposing the child to distribution and criminal sale of drugs. These align with the article 33, that explore on children right to protection against harmful drugs and drug trade.

In its foreword, the 1988 convention expressed the deep concern that children in most parts of the World are illicit drug consumers market, and trade and distribution of illegal drugs that entails harmful chemicals. It borne in mind this agreement became the most punitive and prescriptive of the drug conventions whereby children were protected from drug reunions. Article 33 obligates protecting children from the use of illegal drugs, which entails protecting them from drug abuse effect. Pregnant women who are drug abusers may have babies with deformities or newborns with abstinence syndrome. Still, Drug abuse by family members or parents may result to children being harmed or neglected. Under Convention rights, there is a great concern that, while young children are likely to be substance abusers, they may need specialist health care if born to drug addicted parents, and protection against family members who are abusers.

Usually, children and young adults are criminalised for drug use and if caught they may be subject to jails or detention centres. Street children are more arrested and vulnerable to drug abuse than any other group. Article 4 explains that the government should responsibly ensure children rights are protected and create an environment where a child can grow and attain his potential. Although not clearly stated in the CRC, it argued that the right to providing a favourable environment is an obligation in protecting children from the illegitimate use of illegal drugs. Often, the criminal codes offer criminalizing behavioural exertions of children like runaways, truancy, and vagrancy, attributed by social, economic, and psychological problems. This makes the minorities to be vulnerable to abuse in the criminal justice system.

Article 28 of the CRC recognises the right to child’s education on the ground of equal opportunity. Although it may be obvious that children using illegal drugs are eliminated from school for the welfare of other children, the right to education its’ exposed to intervention. Education is the most powerful tool of combating barriers that may obstruct the accomplishments of other rights such as drug use and social exclusion. In this case, children using drugs should have suitable education placements that accounts for their needs. This may include information on the drug harm information through, which learners should learn about drug use and their side effects. In reality, being young may be a risk factor to drug abuse as many lack information on how to use different drugs. For instance, Kimberly, Maria, Lothar, & Philip (n.d) in their research found out that, there is lack of data of young people and children living with HIV and what drug related effects they undergo. In most cases, most children fail to understand reasons for using drugs and as a result, most engage into drug abuse innocently. Following this, there is a pressing need of educating children on different subjects that affects their wellbeing.

Although drug use is severe in the adult population, it is irreversibly harmful for children taking drugs and may affect them physically or mentally. Therefore, the states should take appropriate measures and procedures that protect children from drug abuse (Waldock, (2011). Despite the initiatives to endorse children’s rights, children in most countries are illicit mostly use tobacco and alcohol. These drugs may be extremely prejudicial to addictive and health. It noted that, glue sniffing is the habit of children working and living in the streets, which in turn, expose them to engage into criminal behaviours. The Committee For the Convention on the Children Rights urges many countries to take systematic action that protect children from drugs according to the 2009 UNICEF report.

According to Stuart, Yanghee & Marie (n.d), UNICEF advocates for protection of children’s rights that in turn, promotes their well-being. UNICEF regards that children are special beings who require special protection and care. Under the convention rights of children, Article 18 assert on the parental guidance and state assistance. Both parents should responsibly bring up their children by considering what enhance health. This article stresses on the importance of raising a child in a favourable environment that protect them from abuse or violence. Similarly, article 33 majors its subject on drug abuse whereby governments protects children from harmful drugs exposure.

The problem of drug abuse among children is complex as discussed by Zoriah (2011). Zoriah raises a concern that although many states agree that children should use illegal drugs, most mayors are drug suppliers in the street. As a result, this creates high vulnerability for street children abusing drugs due to frustrations and shattered dreams. Lack of education opportunities makes these children vulnerable to drug abuse, and eventually creates violence in the society as many engage into criminal behaviours. Zoriah’s article indicates how the government neglects children protection against education and exposure to drug abuse. Following the article discussion, the government should obligate protecting children’s rights and implement procedures that promote their welfare.


To sum up, this paper has explored on the subject children right as related to drug abuse. In great thoughts, it has highlighted how drug abuse among children is a critical issue in most countries. Drug abuse among children raises a number of questions of what to do borne in mind; it is an increasingly concern in the global phenomenon. The primary focus of The Convention on the Rights of the Child is to eradicate children instigating drug use. As discussed in the paper, world leaders initiated a legally binding document that incorporated children rights. Leaders wanted the world to recognize that children have human rights that govern their wellbeing. The convention set standards in education, social, civil, legal, and health care services. Its major objective is to protect children from abuse and discrimination. In various sections, the convention acknowledges the primary role of parents and families in initiating human rights. It augments positive actions by parents, State, and institutions on understanding children’s rights. As outlined in the paper, drug abuse is a critical problem among children thus, requires one to understand children’s rights and work towards implementing them. Therefore, this paper has explored on the subject children rights in relation to drug abuse.


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Kimberly A., S., Maria, H., Lothar, K., & Philip, C. (n.d). The new UN CRC General Comment 13: “The right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence”—Changing how the world conceptualizes child protection.Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(Convention on the Rights of the Child Special Issue), 979-989. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.09.006

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Stuart N., H., Yanghee, L., & Marie, W. (n.d). A new age for child protection – General comment 13: Why it is important, how it was constructed, and what it intends?. Child Abuse & Neglect,35(Convention on the Rights of the Child Special Issue), 970-978. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.09.007

Veerman, P. E. (2010). The Ageing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. International Journal Of Children’s Rights, 18(4),585-618. doi:10.1163/157181810X522360

Waldock, T. (2011). Enhancing the Quality of Care in Child Welfare: Our Obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 24(3), 50-61.

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