This toolkit was developed as part of Loyola University Chicago’s Advancing Healthy Homes and Healthy Communities Initiative (HHHCI). This initiative establishes an interdisciplinary university-community-public-private partner- ship to tackle the problem of environmental toxins in homes and communities through a range of activities. This approach integrates a unique set of strategies and tactics, including applied research, public education, organiz- ing, coalition building, legislative and policy advocacy, and policy implementation. HHHCI uses an integrative research and advocacy model to address the public health and hous- ing problems associated with environmental toxins. This approach integrates a unique set of strategies and tactics, including applied research, public education, organizing, coali- tion building, legislative and policy advocacy, and policy implementation. For more infor- mation, see www.luc.edu/healthyhomes.
Several events occurred over the last few years that have inspired the Center for the Human Rights of Children to analyze the effects of environmental toxins on children through a children’s rights framework:
- In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, U.S., experienced a public health crisis when lead from aging pipes leached into public the water supply, exposing over 100,000 residents to harmful lead levels. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, organized efforts to publicize and address the water crisis, showing that her patients were experiencing elevated lead levels and harm because of the leaching pipes. Gov- ernment officials initially denied any problems. The lack of prompt governmental response in Flint, Michigan, as well as hundreds of other municipalities across the United States to lead poisoning in water supplies demonstrated anationalcrisisthathasprofoundeffects on children’s health and well-being.
- In 2015, youth in the United States filed a constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. U.S., against the U.S. government in the U.S. Their complaint asserts that, through the govern- ment’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.
- In 2016, twelve year-old Takota Iron Eyes created a video calling for help in the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s battle against the proposed route of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The video helped draw thousands of national and international visitors to Standing Rock, North Dakota to fight the pipeline in a protest that lasted nearly a year. This youth-led campaign continues its work to create a more sustainable future and protect indigenous rights in the US.
- The global activism of teenager, Greta Thun- berg (Sweden), organizing school strikes and protest marches in 2018, called international attention to the global climate crisis. Greta has mobilized countless youth and criticized world leaders for debating scientific facts and inaction in the face of global warming that will disproportionately affect the world’s children. Greta’s activism is an model of children’s rights in action – children having a right to participate, to protest, to have a voice, and be active in decision-making of policy makers and adults that affect children, their health, and their future. At the launch of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2019, Greta and 15 young people from 12 different countries filed a landmark legal complaint against five coun- tries under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC ensures the inalienable rights of children around the world including the right to life, health, and peace. This new climate case is the first of its kind to be filed on behalf of a group of children to protect the rights of children around the globe.
- In 2019, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most universally adopted instrument in the world. It recognizes that children have politi- cal, social, economic, and civil rights. Building on the accomplishments of the Advancing Healthy Homes and Healthy Communities Initiative to date, the Center for the Human Rights of Children seeks to provide a children’s rights framework to address exposure to environmental toxins, and prevent harm to children from occurring in the first place.
In celebration of the CRC’s 30th anni- versary and in honor the work of activists and youth advocating for their rights, we have developed this toolkit to help address environmental toxins through a children’s rights framework. We hope this toolkit can be useful in advancing and protecting the mandate of the CRC by assisting community members and stakeholders in creating a healthy, safe, environment for all children.
Cartland, Jenifer, "Addressing Environmental Toxins that Affect Children Through A Children's rights Framework: Tools to help you succeed" (2020). Center for the Human Rights of Children. 22.
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