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The Roles and Rights of Children in Society
Kris Squitieri West Windsor-Plainsboro (NJ) High School South

CORE QUESTION:  What are ideal rights and roles for children in a society?

OVERVIEW:  In small groups of three or four, students will examine case studies of children’s lives in different societies around the world.  They will look at specifically what the roles and rights are of the children in the different societies.  The societies they look at will vary in economic, cultural, and political situations.  The students will then be asked to use the information they have gathered to fill out a chart outlining what the roles and rights of children are in their designated society.  They will also outline questions they have about roles and rights of children that they discover in their given society, as well as concerns or suggestions they have.  They will then take their suggestions and create an “ideal” society for children’s roles and rights.  The groups will fill out another chart for their “ideal” society, with the exception of the “questions” column.  The “ideal” society charts will then be passed around to each group for them to examine, and put questions they have in the questions column of the chart.  Groups will be given a chance to look over the questions about their created society posed by their peers.  To conclude the lesson, the students and teacher will engage in a discussion about what they feel makes a society ideal for children’s roles rights, and is it really possible to have an ideal society after all.

TIME REQUIRED: 40 minutes


INTERDISCIPLINARY APPLICATIONS:  Social Studies, Reading, Composition,



  1. Students will evaluate the experiences of children in other countries.
  2. Students will compare the conditions of children in other countries.
  3. Students will identify the roles and rights of children.
  4. Students will evaluate the difficulties in trying to change or improve the conditions of children around the world.

STRATEGIES:  The teacher will introduce the lesson by asking the students what elements they think define the roles and rights of children in a society.  The teacher should remind the students that children’s rights are not necessarily what the children “want”, but rather what they “need”.  Each group will then be assigned a specific society around the world, and given a resource packet with information about children in their given society.  Using information gathered from their packet, groups will fill out a chart that outlines the roles and rights of children in their given society.  In the questions column, they should list any questions, or suggestions that  they have for the existing roles and rights of children in their given society. 


Roles & Responsibilities



Questions and Suggestions











Once the groups have finished the chart for their assigned society, they will take the questions or suggestions that they had to help them try and design an outline of a society with “ideal” rights and roles for children.  They will again fill out a chart, this time leaving the questions/suggestions column blank.

Once all of the groups have completed their “ideal” society charts, the charts will be passed around the room for all of the other groups to look at.  The other groups will review their peers’ ideas for an “ideal” society for children, and list any questions or suggestions that they have for the group’s proposed society in the questions/suggestions column of their chart.  Groups will then get back their proposed society charts, with their peer’s questions and suggestions to review and discuss as a group.

The activity will conclude with a class discussion about what were the difficulties that they had in trying to create a realistic society that was “ideal” for children’s roles and rights, and why they think that those difficulties existed.  The teacher should use the discussion to show the students perhaps why problems with children’s roles and rights in society exist, that there is no simple solution. A class discussion may be included before and after activity.

MATERIALS:  Resource packets for the different countries (one for each group of 3 or 4 students),  “Children’s Roles in Society” charts on large sheets of paper (11x14) or printed on overhead sheets, overhead markers (if necessary), large sheets of white paper (36’’x 24’’), markers or crayons.

Resource packets (prepared by teacher)


Colon, A. R. and P. A. Colon,  A History of Children: A Socio-Cultural Survey
Across Millennia,
Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

Hawes, Joseph. and N. Roy Hines, American Childhood: A Research Guide and Historical Handbook, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1985.

ASSESSMENT:  Presentation of charts and visual “models”, measured by a rubric.

To learn more about the influence of Children's Rights on our global society, click on the links below:
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