Let’s Educate Our Children on Freedom of Speech

How would you feel if you could not freely express what you think? There are countries where expressing an opinion contrary to that of their leaders can cost you your freedom. Societies where people freely express their ideas create diversity and tolerance, so it is essential to teach our sons and daughters about freedom of expression and its importance.

What is Freedom of Expression and What Are Its Characteristics?

Freedom of expression means that everyone has the right to express what they think without being persecuted and harassed for it. From this freedom comes the ability to freely investigate, access and impart information. However, freedom of expression may have limits, such as prohibiting incitement to violence, crime, discrimination or hatred.

Freedom of expression is related to freedom of the press, which refers to the ability to transmit information through the media without state control.

The defining characteristics of freedom of expression are as follows:

  • It is a human right that is regulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, therefore, not only the freedom of expression of journalists, publishers or politicians is protected, but that of all people.
  • As we have seen, it has certain limits such as the prohibition of incitement to violence, confidentiality, trade secrets or the right to privacy.
  • It presupposes the existence of freedom of thought and the need to listen to different opinions.
  • The freedom of expression must be framed in the transparency and authenticity of the information.
  • If a person, protected by the freedom of expression, divulges false information, he can be prosecuted by the courts.
  • In many countries, the Constitution establishes that the rights are recognized and protected:
    • To freely express and disseminate thoughts, ideas and opinions by speech, writing or any other means of reproduction.
    • To freely communicate or receive truthful information by any means of dissemination.
    • Freedom of expression should not only exist in politics or in the press, but also in the arts, in music or on social networks.

Where Is the Freedom of Expression of Boys and Girls Regulated?

Freedom of expression is also recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is an international treaty that regulates the human rights of children. In its articles 12 and 13 it refers to freedom of expression:

Article 12:

  1. States Parties shall guarantee to the child who is capable of forming his own judgment the right to express his opinion freely in all matters affecting the child, with due weight being given to the views of the child, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
  2. To this end, in particular, the child shall be given the opportunity to be heard, in any judicial or administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly or through a representative or an appropriate body, in accordance with the procedural rules of the national law.

Article 13:

  1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression ; This right shall include the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, whether orally, in writing, or in print, in artistic form, or by any other means chosen by the child.
  2. The exercise of said right may be subject to certain restrictions, which will only be those that the law provides and are necessary:
  3. a) For the respect of the rights or reputation of others; or
  4. b) For the protection of national security or public order or to protect public health or morals.

How Do You Teach Children the Importance of Freedom of Expression?

Adults are aware of the importance of freedom of expression, but how do we teach children about its importance? What tools can be used? We’ll tell you.

It is common for us to inadvertently suppress children’s emotions. Indeed, we often use expressions such as “Don’t cry”, “Don’t get angry” or others. These phrases give them the impression that it is wrong to feel sad or angry, when in reality, what is important is that they learn to express themselves to let their emotions out.

To help our sons and daughters learn to express themselves and know why freedom of expression is important, you can follow tips such as the following:

  • Be empathetic. It’s essential that your son or daughter feels heard and understood, that you trust them, that you tell them and show them that you understand how they feel.
  • Set a good example. During childhood, we learn a lot from our mothers and fathers, and children copy the way we express ourselves and act, so there is no better way to teach them to express themselves than to express our emotions. The important thing is for them to learn that it’s not wrong to express emotions, but it’s essential to do it correctly, i.e., if I’m angry, I don’t yell and throw things on the floor, for example.
  • Help your sons and daughters have their own tools. Sometimes they may not have the right tools to express themselves and it’s the job of fathers and mothers to get them to think. You can ask them questions to get them thinking about a certain situation and explore ways to express themselves and feel good about it.
  • Use games and stories. Play is a way to learn and also to discover emotions and ways to express them. Choose stories based on emotions and read them with your sons and daughters.


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