HUMAN RIGHTS AND HEALTH PROMOTION: A CANADA FIT FOR CHILDREN?

Richard Mitchell

Abstract


The 2011 Canadian election campaign demonstrates once again that while the health care debate is always a highly contested political issue, little of the discussion originates from, or is concerned with, citizens under 18 years of age. This paper responds to this gap in knowledge with findings from a qualitative, exploratory human rights study investigating the youth-led health promotion group REACT (Resist, Expose and Challenge [big] Tobacco). Under the auspices of the Chief Medical Officer, successive cohorts of high-school students have been working within the Niagara Public Health Region in Ontario, Canada since 2005. The main findings suggest that young people are fully competent to manage important aspects of their own health, and have led authorities to support health-enhancing behaviours for themselves and their peers. Moreover, it is clear that rights-based health promotion has been underutilized in Canada since dominant theoretical approaches to healthy development and traditional top-down institutional processes frequently overlook – and thus violate – the participatory human rights of young people. This violation represents a social justice issue with far-reaching consequences for equity in the overall health of the Canadian population.


Keywords


human rights, determinants of population health, health promotion, sociology of childhood

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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© University of Victoria
Victoria, BC Canada

 

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