Along the way, I documented endearing, interesting, funny, disturbing, intelligent, inspiring and unexpected quotes from children and youngsters on their lives, rights and sometimes very random subjects. Here I share some of my favourites and most memorable quotes and situations. Names are fictitious.

Original language: Twi / English

Conversing with children’s rights clubs in schools

Girl (15 years): “I have learned that if someone forces me, I have to shout and call DCI.” [DCI = Defence for Children International – Ghana, in this case].

Me: “What would you like to know about the Netherlands?”
Boy: “What is the name of your prime minister?”
Me: “Mark Rutte”
The entire class burst into laughter.

Girl: “And at what age can girls get married? […] And how old are you? […] Are you married? […] Why not? […] What level of education did you then get?”

“What kind of laws for children do you have in NL?”

” Where can we locate the DCI office in the Netherlands?”

Original language: Spanish

Interviewing indigenous children on their rights

“Do you know what rights are?”
Alex (10 years) sticks out his right arm and says: “Yes. This is the right.”

Entrevistando a niños indígenas en Panamá

“Sabes lo que es derecho?”
Alex (10 años ) saca su brazo derecho y dice: “Sí. Esto es el derecho.”

Costa Rica
Original language: Spanish

Indigenous girl in La Casona, Coto Brus: “Why are you so white? Why do you paint your hair so light? And… why don’t you have hair on your legs?!”

Nina indígena en La Casona, Coto Brus: “Porque usted es tan blanca? Y porque pinta su pelo así? Y… porque no tiene pelo en sus piernas?!” 

At a secondary school in Paso Canoas. 
Me: “So do you understand what this interview will be about?”
Latino Costa Rican student (15 years): “No. But I wan’t to marry you.”

En un colegio en Paso Canoas.
Yo: “Entonces, entiendes de lo que se trata la entrevista?”

Estudiante Tico Latino (15 años): “No, pero quiero casarme con usted.”

The Netherlands
Original language: Dutch

Interviewing children on (learning about) children’s rights in secondary schools

Girl, student: “But I think that they [the teachers, the school] do not want to make us too smart, because we would get even more cheeky! Those teachers will then definitely go nuts, if you are going to use such [legal] terms.” 

Boy, student: “Yeah, whatever, as long as you’re living well…yes, you can be thinking about it…I could learn about the right to water, but, yeah, i just get my water from the tap. You do not think about it too much as a child, as long as things are going well and as long as you have water.”

Some children do find it important. “There are nearly only children in school!” and “If you’re in school and something goes wrong, you have to know who is wrong and how to solve the problem.”

Boy, student, that has learned about human/children’s rights in school: “I was not really interested. […] I am in school and I have rights but I don’t care about what rights they are.” 

In Dutch

Jongen, scholier: “Ja, boeiend, zolang je het goed hebt…ja, je kunt je er wel mee bezig houden, ik kan wel leren over het recht op water, maar ja, ik heb gewoon water uit de kraan. Je denkt er zelf ook als kind niet zo veel over na, zolang het goed gaat en je gewoon water hebt.”

Meisje, scholier: “Maar ik denk dat ze [de docenten, de school] ons ook niet te slim willen maken, want anders worden we nog brutaler! Dan worden die leraren helemaal gek, als je met die termen komt.”

Sommige kinderen vinden het wel belangrijk. “Er zijn bijna alleen maar kinderen op school!” en “als je op school zit en er gaat iets fout, dan moet je weten wie er fout zit en hoe je het op kunt lossen.”

Jongen, scholier, die heeft geleerd op school over het onderwerp. “Het interesseerde me niet zo veel. […] Ik zit op school en ik heb rechten, maar welke dat zijn, maakt me niks uit.”