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CRIN - Discrimination

CRIN - Child Rights Information Network

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A to Z of non-discrimination

This list illustrates different aspects of discrimination. Click on each heading for more information.

The list is not exhaustive, and will be updated and amended over time. Email comments and suggestions to

See grounds of discrimination identified by the Committee on the Rights of the Child here.


  • Affirmative action
    Affirmative action - or positive discrimination - aims to remove barriers that perpetuate discrimination.
  • Age discrimination
    Most countries prohibit age discrimination against elderly people, yet few protect children in the same way.
  • Albino children
    In some Central African countries, Albino children have been abducted and murdered for their body parts which some people believe can make them rich.
  • Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOS)
    In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Anti-social Behaviour Orders may be imposed on people whose conduct is perceived as harmful or distressing.
  • Appearance
    In some Central American countries children are discriminated against because of their appearance (e.g. way of dressing, tattoos and symbols)
  • Association (freedom of)
    In many countries, young people are deterred from being in public spaces where adults are not.


  • Birth registration
    The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled against the Dominican Republic for racial discrimination in access to nationality.
  • Breech position
    In some communities in the Central African Republic, children who are born with their buttocks first may be subject to discrimination.
  • Budgets
    Children's services are often allocated a smaller portion of the budget than the equivalent services catering for adults.


  • Child labour
    Children are often denied the right to join a trade union where adults can, in Turkey, for example.
  • Children born on an unlucky day
    In Madagascar the murder or rejection of children thought to be “born on an unlucky day” continues in some places.


  • Dalit children
    Dalit is the name given to the group of people of South Asian descent traditionally regarded as ‘untouchables’ or of ‘low caste’.
  • Definitions
    The most common definition of discrimination is that of the UN Human Rights Committee.
  • Direct discrimination
    Direct discrimination occurs when someone is deliberately and unjustifiably treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation.
  • Disability
    In some communities, parents who kill or allow their child to die often receive lower penalties if the child has a disability.
  • Drug abuse
    In most countries, harm reduction services are not open to those under certain ages – 18 or, in the case of Sweden, 20.
  • Drug use
    In many countries, there are age thresholds for participating in harm reduction interventions.


  • Economic, social and cultural rights
    A UN Committee recently published guidance on discrimination and economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Education
    Most countries are plagued by discriminatory education systems, disadvantaging those already suffering multiple forms of exclusion.
  • Emergencies
    Emergencies magnify existing discrimination against vulnerable groups. All rights in the CRC apply in emergency situations.


  • Girls
    In Iran the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 15 for boys, but 9 for girls.


  • Honour killings
    The murder of a family member because they are perceived to have brought dishonour on the family


  • Immigrant children
    Both 'legal' and undocumented immigrant children face discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
    Indirect discrimination results when a policy applies to everyone, but has an inadvertent, unfair impact on particular people
  • Infanticide
    In India and China infanticide, the killing of a child under 12 months old, is commonly practised against girls
  • Inter-sectional discrimination
    See multiple discrimination


  • Juvenile justice
    In the USA, African Americans make up 16 per cent of the juvenile population, but 58 per cent of youth sentenced to prison are African American.


  • Language
    Language can play a crucial role in reinforcing or challenging discrimination.
  • Law
    Without laws that prevent discrimination, there may be no way to stop children from being treated unfairly.


  • Media
    Media portrayal of children has a profound impact on attitudes to children and childhood.
  • Monitoring and evaluation
    Monitoring and evaluation is essential for assessing whether a programme has been successful in bringing about a reduction in discrimination.
  • Multiple discrimination
    Multiple discrimination occurs when someone is discriminated against on more than one ground.


  • Non-discrimination
    The right to non-discrimination is an overarching principle of the Convention on the Rights of the Child


  • Race
    In Ireland, almost all children who could not find elementary school places in a Dublin suburb were black
  • Refugee children
    In Germany refugee children aged 16-18 do not benefit from the rights contained in the Youth Welfare Act.
  • Religion or belief
    The UN Human Rights Committee has held that where a State party chooses to publicly fund religious schools, it should do so without discrimination.
  • Roma children
    The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled against the Czech Republic for racial discrimination against Roma in the education system.


  • Sexual identity and orientation
    The Yogyakarta Principles address discrimination against children on the basis of their, or their parent's, sexual orientation or identity.
  • Stateless children
    A complaint is pending with the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child concerning stateless Nubian children in Kenya.
  • Status offences
    Status offences encompass acts which would not be criminal if they were committed by adults.
  • Street children
    Children living and/or working on the street face an increased threat of violence and detention


  • Teenage parents
    In Uruguay, unmarried children under 18 cannot be registered as their child's parent. This rule does not apply to unmarried adults.
  • Transgender children
    A recent court decision in Argentina authorised a minor to have gender reassignment surgery and have her birth certificate amended accordingly.
  • Twins
    Children born as twins may be rejected among the Antambahoaka people in south eastern Madagascar.


  • Violence
    In many countries, children do not enjoy equal legal protection with adults from violence.