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Understanding the best interests of the child (2-3)

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How can we define the concept of best interests?

Let's consider that it has to do with what is important to the child - what is necessary to ensure that he or she leads a dignified and happy life. In other words, for all decisions that concern a child, the impact of the decision on the child's life must be taken into consideration and it is his or her interests that must prevail.

This concept, laid down in the very first articles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, is a general principle that must- or should - be applied to numerous situations, including for example, in the event of the separation of a child's parents (see episode 12 for more information about this subject), in cases of adoption (see episode 18) or with respect to a child's education (see episode 38).

In order to establish what is important for each child, we can refer to certain definitions of the basic or fundamental needs of each human being. Since the 1940s, concepts of these needs has been based on 2 theoretic models, the first commonly called « The 14 fundamental needs according to Virginia Henderson ».

These 14 needs were defined by integrating 3 different approaches :


1. Breathing normally
2. Eating and drinking adequately
3. Eliminating bodily wastes
4. Moving and maintaining a desirable position
5. Sleeping and resting
6. Selecting suitable clothes
7. Maintaining body temperature (by adjusting clothing and modifying the environment)
8. Keeping the body clean and well-groomed
9. Avoiding dangers in the environment
10.Communicating with others (making one's self understood and understanding others)
11.Acting in accordance with one's faith and values, including worship
12. Participating in play-based, creative activities to feel a sense of accomplishment
13. Playing or participating in various forms of recreation (without being forced to concentrate on him or herself)
14. Learning, discovering, or satisfying the curiosity that leads to normal development and health, and using available health facilities

Fundamental needs

Each level of needs can only be fulfilled if the previous one has been realized.

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