The Right to Play and Rest
Your rights under the UNCRC
UNCRC, Article 31: It’s your right to have play, leisure and rest that is suitable for your age.
Your rights under Irish law
-Under the Criminal Justice Act 2006, it’s your right to socialise in your neighbourhood, as long as you are not harassing or causing harm and fear in others.
-Under the Protection of Young Person’s Employment Act 1996, it’s your right to have a part-time job if you are 14 or older. It’s your right to take breaks depending on how long you’ve worked.
Did you know?
- Getting regular exercise is good for your mental health.
- In a 2017 survey from Reach Out of 2,500 young people aged 13-19, 23% of young people said that exercise and sport made them feel better and less stressed.
- A 2014 survey by Safefood found that 4 out of 5 children in Ireland do not do the guideline 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
- In 2011, over 65,000 children and young people shared their views about living in Ireland with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Improving play and leisure opportunities for children and young people was among the changes they felt could make Ireland a better place to live.
- The percentage of children who reported that there are good places in their area to spend their free time increased from 51.2% in 2010 to 61.5% in 2014 (HBSC Survey 2014).
- According to the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) report, which was published in 2015:
- 93% of 10 to 14 year olds who took part in the study said that they do their hobbies weekly or more often than that.
- 66% of 10 to 14 year olds said that they play sport with a club.
- 70% of 12 to 17 year olds said that they always feel comfortable being themselves while with their friends.
- In 2016, the Irish Sports Council said there is a slight decline in the amount of young people playing sport. 70% of young people aged 16-24 years old played some form of sport during May and October 2013, whereas only 67.9% of young people played in 2016.
- Under the age of 2, children should sleep 11+ hours a night, according to Safefood. The recommended numbers of hours sleep for over 10 year olds is 9+ hours sleep a night. Children who don’t have enough sleep at night may be at the risk of becoming overweight.
- Children in Ireland have one of the highest levels of physical activity among 42 World Health Organisation (WHO) countries and regions (HSBC Survey, 2014).
Hear your right – read by Joshua Timi Sowunmi
Tá ceart chun súgartha agus sosa agat.
Éist le do chearta – léite ag Keeva Ní Bhaoill
What children and young people are saying
- A right that is important to me is to relax because if you don’t, you’ll just get stressed and annoyed and tired and you need to relax to get energy so you won’t be as annoyed. – Christian (12)
“If you don’t have enough rest, people won’t really know what your personality is because you won’t be yourself.”
“The right to play and rest is important so we all enjoy life. And it keeps us fit!” – -Group of 14 year old boys, Dublin
“We’d like not to have homework at the weekend so that we have more time to meet our friends.” – - Group of 14 year old boys, Dublin
“We get in trouble for being around estates, but we have nowhere even to go; no youth club in our area; no access to a good, fun place; nothing to do.” – Group of young people, Dublin
“The local environment and facilities are not youth-friendly, the park is dangerous and there’s broken glass.” – Group of 16-18 year olds, Dublin
“Where I live there is no place to play. This is the thing I want to change. For there to be more space to play.” – Young girl, Limerick
“Children and young people whose families can’t pay for activities need to play on the streets and this brings its own problems.” – Young girl, Dublin
“Being involved in sport keeps children and young people off drugs and under-age drinking” – Young person
“There should be activities like film clubs / writer groups for young people who are not into sport.” – Group of young people, Clare
You can hear more from children and young people on the free It’s Your Right iPad app!
- Jack, 9, gives his views on the rights of the child while visiting the Ombudsman for Children’s office.
Find out more
- Kids Health – Find out more about why sleep matters
- Youth Work Ireland – Find out about your local youth club’s activities and services
- Foróige – Find out about your local youth club’s activities and services
- Scouts – Interested in joining the scouts?
- Irish Girl Guides – Interested in joining the girl guides?
- Irish Wheelchair Association – Find out about the Irish Wheelchair Association’s activities and services for young people
- Community Games – Look into the different activities and events organised by the Community Games.
Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators
- Amnesty International UK – ‘Sam and Dave dig a Hole’. Ideas for using this book by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett to support children to examine their right to play.
- National Youth Council of Ireland et al – ‘Play Right’. Activity for children aged 8 and over to explore the importance of play and conditions necessary for children to be able to play. In Setting Our Sights on Rights (2014), p.28.
- UNICEF Ireland – ‘Play and Leisure’. Discussion points and images to support young people to explore children and young people’s right to play, leisure and to participate in cultural activities. In Picture Your Rights (2015), p.1.
- Spunout – ‘Learn something new!’ Suggestions for young people about developing new skills, which might be used to kick-start a discussion with young people.