The Right Year has drawn to a close but the debate goes on as the 10th annual Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) report has been published seriously addressing shortcomings in the governments response to the Committes previous findings.
As many areas of childrens rights in the UK remain unprotected, the report serves to highlight the importance of the question raised by the Right Year for Children debate – should the United Nation Convention for the Rights of Children be incorporated into UK law?
Opening statements in the debate, held in December 2012, made by Melian Mansfield (For) and Mike Lindsay from the Office of the Children’s Rights Director (Against) raised convincing points.
Despite coming to the end of the Right Year our website will be left up as a resource so please continue to make use of it. We also want to thank everyone that has been involved throughout the year
Please post any responses to issues raised here using #UNCRCdebate where the debate continues!Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment January 31, 2013
Participation Works shares the latest news regarding children’s rights…
Government breaks promises on children’s rights – but some progress in participation
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) has published a report looking at how well the Government is fulfilling its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The State of Children’s Rights 2012, draws on hundreds of sources to examine how children are faring in all aspects of their lives and finds breaches in many key areas. It also reports that the Government is not fulfilling its promise to check how its policies affect children’s rights.
In 2008 the UN advised the UK to improve on children’s rights in 118 areas. CRAE has found that in relation to 31% of the UN’s recommendations things are getting worse for children. In 12 months from now, the Government is due to update the UN on progress made. Several of the recommendations made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2008 related to participation rights and the need to ensure that children were able to express a view on matters that affect them and have their views taken seriously.
The report highlights the positive developments in relation to participation rights in the past 12 months. The introduction of the Health and Social Act 2012 includes several measures relating to patient involvement in decision-making which could have a significant impact on children’s involvement in making decisions about their health care. The Government has also introduced draft legislation that, if passed in its current form, will introduce pilot schemes that will give children in test areas the right to bring their own appeal in special educational needs matters and to bring their own disability discrimination claims.
However in other areas there has been less progress. In 2008, the UN said the UK Government needed to do more ensure that the views of children in alternative care were taken into account in all measures and had access to complaints mechanisms. CRAE’s report revealed that children continue to express dissatisfaction with the accessibility and effectiveness of complaints mechanisms and that looked after children and those in the youth justice system still do not have consistent access to high quality, independent advocacy.
CRAE’s overall assessment was that progress on participation rights in relation to education was also mixed. Although the Government has still not implemented the duty on schools to invite and consider the views of students, the draft legislation on reforming the system of support to children with special educational needs and disabilities could provide opportunities for being involved in decisions about what activities are available locally. There was disappointment that the Government has not revised the law to permit children to appeal against their own exclusions, although the report notes that several provisions of the new guidance on exclusions are positive with regard to the right of students to participate in the appeals process.
Peers criticise Government approach to consultation
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Select Committee has criticised the Government’s new principles on consulting on Government policy. A report published on 10 January, said that the Government’s approach to consultation should be reviewed immediately by an independent, external body.
The Government announced its new approach to consultation and published an accompanying guidance document in July 2012. The guidance sets out the ‘principles that Government departments and other public bodies should adopt when engaging stakeholders when developing policy and legislation.’ The most significant change in the new guidance was that Government departments would be able to consider a much greater range of timescales for consultation processes, rather than follow the standard 12-week timeframe. The Committee noted that Government departments had always been able to reduce the 12-week consultation period if there were good reasons for doing so and said that this fact should be highlighted in the public debate.
The Committee was especially concerned that although the new Principles would allow Government to make legislation more speedily, ‘there is a risk that the resulting statute will be less robust because rushed consultation processes make it too difficult for external critique at the right time’.
The Committee also expressed concerns about the Government’s “digital by default” approach to consultation and said that this may exclude many vulnerable and hard to reach groups, and limit their ability to respond. The Committee called on the Government to ‘demonstrate more clearly that the commitment to wider engagement with vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups is being delivered in practice’ and ‘to reinforce the commitment to wider engagement in any revision of the Principles’.
MPs vote in favour of lowering the voting age
On 24 January, MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to reduce the age of eligibility for voting in all elections and referenda in the UK to 16. Almost 200 MPs participated in debate, introduced by backbencher Stephen Williams (MP).
Before the debate in Parliament, Stephen Williams wrote on his blog that
‘The time has come for a vital step in the renewal of Britain’s democracy. Time to let another one and a half million people take part in voting for the people who run the country. Giving the right to vote to sixteen and seventeen year olds now has widespread support across the political spectrum. British citizens aged sixteen can already vote in some elections and their counterparts can do so in some of the world’s largest democracies.’
Several MPs spoke passionately in support of reducing the voting age during the debate. Speaking in favour of the motion, Labour MP Lisa Nandy said:
‘I speak in support of lowering the voting age because I start from the perspective that extending the franchise has historically always been a good thing and that in a democracy people should have the right to shape the decisions that affect them, unless there is a really good reason why not’.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Chloe Smith MP said that she wanted a clear
‘case for change’
before making such important change to the electoral system and felt that the case had not yet been made.
119 MPs voted for the motion and 46 MPs voted against it.
Office of the Children’s Rights Director: children’s views reports
The Office of the Children’s Rights Director (OCRD) has published a report presenting the views of looked after children on the Government’s proposed changes to legislation and policies on fostering and adoption.
429 adopted children shared their views on ‘fostering for adoption’ – the Government’s proposal to enable children to move in once social services has decided a child should be adopted and possible adoptive parents found, rather than living with another family as a foster child until this process is complete. Seventy four percent of the children who participated in the survey supported the idea of fostering for adoption. The top three things that were identified as being positive about the proposal were:
· Children will get to know their new family sooner;
· Fewer moves from one family to another;
· It would save time in getting adopted.
Two major issues were identified with the proposal. Some children said that if the adoption doesn’t go ahead, the child would be moved again. This would result in the child being more upset as they had been moved away from the parents they thought they would be with permanently. The children also thought that it was still important for a child and carers to get to know each other first before agreeing a permanent placement.
Children also gave their views on the Government’s suggestion to speed up the approval process for parents who have previously adopted or fostered a child. Over 75% of children were positive about this proposal. One of the main reasons given in support was that parents would have already been checked and have experience of looking after a child. Those who disagreed with the proposal thought that all parents should have the same checks and training. Other children said that just because a person had fostered a child, it did not means they would necessarily be a good adoptive parent, so it was important to get the training and checks right.
Children and young people across Europe call for an end to violence in custody
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) has published a report presenting the views and experiences of over 120 children and young people across Europe on violence in custody and presenting their suggestions for change. The report has been published as part of the European Commission funded Ending Violence against Children in Custody project, coordinated by CRAE. The report sets out the findings of research conducted by young investigators in Austria, Cyprus, England, the Netherlands and Romania with children and young people in custody and includes recommendations for ending violence in custody aimed at governments, governors of custodial settings, prison officers, police forces, and judges.
Children and young people described a claustrophobic atmosphere in custody where boredom, frustration and stress act as triggers for violence. ‘There is not much to do. Then we start looking for something, irritations arise and fighting starts.’ (Male, 17, the Netherlands).Young people in all the partner countries called for there to be more positive activities in prison to help reduce tension.
Many of the young people felt that staff provoke violence in custody. Staff members were criticised for goading young people by bringing up their offence and for using force excessively when intervening in an incident. Young people in Austria, Cyprus, England and the Netherlands called on the authorities to look again at the kinds of staff who are employed in youth custodial settings and to employ people who are able to relate to young people. Several children described police officers using humiliating and threatening language and higher levels of force than experienced in custody. One female in England (aged 16) said, ‘In police stations I’ve had my finger slammed in cell doors… And I’ve almost broken my jaw when he slammed us down on concrete…’. Young people in Cyprus, England and Romania called for better regulation of police behaviour when they are in contact with children and young people.
Other common recommendations to emerge across the five European countries were the need for a distinct system for children and young people in trouble in the law, more effective complaints mechanisms and a call for judges to give a second chance before sentencing a young person to custody and to be sensitive to the particular circumstance that young people find themselves in.
Young people in each of the partner countries have developed and run their own campaigns to try to end violence against children in custody. The youth-led campaigns in each country were based on the recommendations developed by young researchers in the first phase of the project. A report presenting the campaigning activities in each of the partner countries was published on 28 January 2013.
British Youth Council launches global hub on youth policy
The British Youth Council (BYC) has launched an online hub for youth policy research, discussion and ideas. The first online debate asks five leading figures from across the worlds of campaigning, politics and the UN ‘which structures really change the world?’. As increasing numbers of young people get involved in local and national decision-making and grassroots activism, the debate asks the experts how best young people can achieve the change they want to see.
United Futures: Join us and help build business partnerships that support young people
Wednesday 27 February, 8.30-10.30
Starbucks, 1 South Parade, Nottingham, NG1 2JS
We would like to invite you to join us at an event that is part of an exciting project called United Futures.
It will bring together local businesses and youth sector organisations to find out more about each other and explore opportunities for working together to make a difference to the lives of young people.
You’ll hear a project overview, followed by the chance to talk to local businesses one-on-one about the potential to develop mutually beneficial partnerships.
This event forms part of the wider United Futures programme which aims to break down barriers between businesses and the youth sector. It is hoped that events such as this, will make it easier for both sectors to work better together and develop initiatives which benefit young people.
What kind of world do you want to live in? UNICEF UK wants to hear what you think!
Since 2000, the MDGs have provided a framework and set of priorities for the decisions and actions taken in international development. With the 2015 MDGs deadline approaching, a global conversation is underway about what should happen “post-2015”.
UNICEF UK believes that the opinions of children and young people everywhere must be central to this discussion. The new post-2015 development framework will have a direct impact on children and young people everywhere and the world that they live in, both now and in the future.
As well as a series of workshops taking place in different parts of the UK, UNICEF UK invites British residents aged 25 or under to take part in an online survey. (The closing date for the survey is 5pm on 31 January 2013).
Involved by Right Dissemination Conference
Involved by Right is an EU Daphne programme grant-funded project which seeks to improve participation and advocacy in child protection to achieve better outcomes for children at risk.
This unique project began in March 2011 and has ensured the active participation of those children with experience of the child protection system and those in public care.
The project is now ending with a one day dissemination conference taking place in London on 25th February 2013. It will bring together partners and professionals and YAB representatives on the day.
The evaluation report, best practice toolkit and young people’s resources will all be published and disseminated at the event.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Applications for Starbucks Youth Action are open!
The Starbucks Youth Action programme aims to inspire, empower and supports young people from across the UK and Ireland to make a difference in their communities.
The programme provides seed funding to help young people aged 16-24 get their projects off the ground. As well as supporting young people to bring to life the projects that mean the most to them, it also offer training to young people on managing budgets, working with volunteers and project management.
A fairer society for young people: Have your say on social inclusion!
The British Youth Council UK Young Ambassadors want to know what young people in the UK think about social inclusion and youth work. They want to know if young people are feeling excluded in their communities, why they feel excluded, and how youth work can be used to make young people feel more included in their local areas.
You can also win a £30 Amazon voucher for taking part!
The UK Young Ambassadors will discuss the results of this research with European decision-makers at a conference in Ireland in March and will campaign to make sure young people across the UK and Europe feel more included in their communities.
IdeasTap Ideas Fund Innovators programme is open for applications
The IdeasTap Ideas Fund Innovators programme is currently open to applications from artistic projects run by young people aged 16-25. The programme provides up to £1,000 for projects from any creative discipline, with a focus on innovation. The next deadline for receipt of applications is 4 April 2013Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 18, 2012
I don’t know much about children’s rights. Honestly, I am not even sure what my human rights are, and I am sure that there are many people who are in the same boat. However, being a part of the Right Year for Children debate on whether the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should be brought into UK law really opened my eyes. We take for granted how important these rights are – so we should know about them.
The overwhelming theme that I took from the whole debate was that it was a communication problem. When we see that someone has ‘rights’ we are automatically skeptical; that they may be used as an excuse for those who don’t deserve those rights at all. But the fact of the matter is that all, and I mean all, deserve these rights because we are all human. And children most of all deserve the utmost protection as they hold the keys to what will happen next. Unless we change our attitude towards children, towards our fellow human beings, we will fail to appreciate how important these rights are. We take for granted the fact that we have such free access to them, and forget those that do not.
One of the most important articles is Article 16. It talks of no ‘unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation’ which tells us that we cannot continue to speak derogatively about our children and young people. A poll by Children and Young People Now in 2009 revealed that over 76% of press coverage about young people is negative. This is the highest percentage in the world and it clearly has to reduce or we could have a serious problem.
A case study taken by the Youth Media Agency in their submission to the Leveson Inquiry investigated the way that children and young people were represented in the media following the London Riots in 2010 which can be seen here (http://bit.ly/ZblKeP). It shows a tirade of abuse towards children as young as 5 who were caught up in a hate campaign towards a younger generation that was more involved in the cleanup of the devastation, rather than the riots itself. Yet this did not get the justice that it deserved. This needs to change.
So it was fantastic to be a part of this Right Year for Children event, to speak and listen to those that have been in involved in children’s policy for years. But policy and legislation are only the first step, they provide the platform upon which awareness and understanding can be raised. Our children have rights, and we must learn to respect them – the UNCRC recognises this important fact and shows us that it is within our reach. But the next steps must be taken by us, to use this law to show this country that our children are important enough to invest in because what is the motto for 2012? Inspire a Generation (and this is our chance!)
Written by Hiran AdhiaPosted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment November 19, 2012
There’s some BIG news in the air!
Get your diaries out since on the 14th December the Right Year for Children Partnership is having a debate! We’ll be debating whether the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should become part of UK law. You might think this event will be very one sided but we want to document genuine points for and against this.
What we need from you
We want you to come to the debate to either watch, debate or report. We want young media representatives who have lots of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and blogs as well as passionate debaters. We also want experts in the field that have worked with the UNCRC to be debaters as well. It’s not long until the event so please email email@example.com now to get on the guest list.
What we want to achieve
Increase awareness of the UNCRC and it’s legal status, document points for and against it’s incorporation, a press opportunity involving budding young journalists, a networking opportunity for organisations that aren’t as heavily involved in children’s rights as they want to be and enthusiasm to carry on working in this area after this great year is over!! Wow that’s a lot!! With your support we can achieve all of that!!
The debate is going to be held at UNICEF’s best room in London from 2.30pm to 5pm on Friday 14th December!
UNICEF, 30A Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DU
The nearest tube stations are Farringdon and Barbican.
Please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and we hope to hear from you very soon!Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment October 26, 2012
By Helen Cammock
The Having Our Say Too exhibition was part of the Brighton Photo Fringe Photography festival this October. It was a great opportunity for PhotoVoice and the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People to present photographic and written work by young people at risk of, or who have experienced sexual exploitation. There are many young people around the UK managing to make sense of difficult experiences and this project is an opportunity for some of them to explore those experiences and contribute to the dialogue around sexual exploitation by offering their perspectives on the issues involved.
The issues are certainly current in the media and very much bring into mainstream debate the situations faced by both young people – also adults, as demonstrated by the number of latent disclosures by adults in the recent Jimmy Savile case for example. As with all forms of abuse, there are a number of different factors that make someone more vulnerable to being abused but ultimately the responsibility lies with the abuser or exploiter – it is never the fault or the responsibility of the young person. Even if a young person is sexually active already, even if a young person appears confident and in control, even if a young person believes they are in a relationship with an older person (or person in a position of power) it is ultimately the adult who is responsible for forcing a young person, or coercing them or responding to a their apparent crush when the young person is not emotionally in a position to have equal control in that relationship. Many young people don’t recognise or acknowledge sexual exploitation and when they do have this realisation often don’t feel able to disclose it. If they do disclose they may not be taken seriously. Interestingly Peter Rippon of the BBC Newsnight show has recently been publicly exposed for deeming young women to be ‘not too young’ and the incidents of exploitation ‘weren’t the worst kind of sexual offences’. I wonder why Peter Rippon feels he is in a position to make this judgement. The allegation that he shelved a programme looking into the Savile allegations because of this judgement, and that it also clashed with a commemorative programme on Savile that was being made at the same time, have called for Rippon to stand down from his job pending an enquiry. It has spurned a much wider debate around sexism and power in not only the media context but also in society.
As a society we present contradictory messages all the time and we need to come to understand that all young people have the right to be free from all forms of exploitation. Sexual exploitation seems still to be something that we find hard to discuss – often imagining that it something that happens abroad through International trafficking or through internal trafficking by particular and specific communities or identified paedophiles. It is of course far more widespread and complex than this and continues to affect young people and children in varying degrees and in many different contexts.
Through working with the young people on Having Our Say Too project it has become more and more apparent that the young people affected by sexual exploitation need to be part of the dialogue that informs policy makers, the practice of adult professional support staff and most importantly offers other young people insight into their experiences and situations that may impact on their vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
The telling of stories has a way of making situations real, and sharing experiences and perspectives with others, in order to both inform and support can be a powerful part of moving forward. So the digital stories being created by the young people on this project have an important role for their process but also for informing others. It has been important therefore for the project to looks at personal experiences but also perspectives on the contributing factors to young people becoming vulnerable and into the kinds of attitudes and perspectives that need to change within families, schools and society around particular issues and norms.
Participating young people explore different themes that offer a context to sexual exploitation including gender, power, relationships and sex. They have the opportunity to represent their thoughts, responses and experiences through photography, text and music, creating their own digital stories.
PhotoVoice are partnering with the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People in running five participatory photography projects over the next year. All projects will run in partnership with specialist support organisations (all the participating partner projects support young people at risk of sexual exploitation) and the young people involved will have the opportunity to participate in a 3 month photography project. So far projects in Middlesbrough and Blackburn have been completed and another is running in Walsall at the moment. We start a project in three weeks in London.
PhotoVoice and project participants will work with the National Working Group to develop the digital stories into a resource pack for a diverse range of professionals to use in their support of young people in specialised as well as mainstream support services for young people throughout the UK. This resource pack will be piloted in mid 2013 with 500 hundred packs subsequently being distributed to schools, youth projects and a range of specialist support services. It is intended to be a resource for service providers and professionals to deliver projects informed directly by the experiences of young people and will as a consequence support many other young people to understand the issues and context of sexual exploitation and to safeguard themselves.
An online resource and independent website with a gallery and resources will also be developed to support young people, their families and professionals.
There will be a national launch and celebration for participating young people (and their friends, families and support agencies) from all projects.
My next blog will explore some of the reasons why young people are vulnerable to sexual exploitation to begin with.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment October 23, 2012
Attached is an insightful report written by the National Youth Advocacy Service on their UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 20th Anniversary Celebration Day.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment October 23, 2012
Young in Mind have been working with Partnership for Young London (the London Regional Youth Work Unit) and took part in a half day conference ( on Wednesday 26th September 2012) in Central London, entitled ‘Going Public!’ It looked at the implications and opportunities for those working with young people set against the new local authority Public Health responsibilities. Participants heard about the need to engage young people early on in the process of setting up Health and Wellbeing Boards and Local Healthwatch partnerships, particularly as this is the year in which we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the UK ratifying the UNCRC. The danger of focussing on Provision and Protection without Participation was highlighted. Speakers included 17 year old Jessica Page, from Young in Mind, who spoke about the importance of confidentiality and sensitivity when working with young people and Lindsay Starbuck from the Association of Young People’s Health who gave examples of youth participation in health settings.
For more information about PYL or the event go to www.pyl.co.uk.
This last month has brought some excellent children’s rights developments, as well as serious threats. The most significant positive, perhaps, is the new Cabinet Office publication on the procedures to be followed by Government departments when preparing primary legislation. For the first time, Bill teams are urged to include in Explanatory Notes information about the compatibility of the proposed legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the likely impact on children. This is a far cry from enshrining the Convention in domestic law, but it should help to make “children’s rights proofing” a routine process within Government departments and Parliament. The other major development is the publication of the draft legal framework for the new Office of Children’s Commissioner for England. During the passage of the Children Act 2004, the previous Labour administration was pressurised in the House of Lords to add a provision requiring the Children’s Commissioner to have regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The new legislation will make the primary function of the Commissioner to promote and protect the rights of children in England. The changes are likely to happen in 2014 – almost 25 years after children’s charities and others began campaigning for such a role!
The publication of restraint documents by the Ministry of Justice this month shows we can never be complacent. Despite a three-year battle by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England to obtain the previous restraint training manual, and the Ministry of Justice publishing all of the requested information on its website in October 2010, a new document has been published with crucial information deliberately hidden. It will be interesting to hear the response to FOI requests for the full manual this time round. Previously, children’s rights campaigners were told releasing the information would jeopardise security in child prisons, as children would develop their own counter-restraint techniques. At least Government officials offered a justification for that decision, however far-fetched and desperate. The decision, also announced this month, to allow pain-inducing restraint techniques to continue in young offender institutions and secure training centres, but not secure children’s homes, comes without any explanation. The obvious one is that secure children’s homes follow a social work ethos, whilst the other institutions are still largely dominated by prison ideology and practice. The use of pain-inducing restraint techniques on vulnerable children has been criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council, the European Torture Committee, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Secure Accommodation Network and countless children’s and youth charities. They’re certain to be prohibited at some point in the future, the question is how long it will take and how many children will suffer in the meantime.
Children’s rights advocate
I had an exciting day in Warwick on Tuesday 19 June 2012! You don’t normally hear a sentence like that do you? I went to the Association of Play Industries to speak about the Right Year for Children partnership and how the play industry can make the most of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
I focused on Article 31, the child’s right to play. UNICEF’s simplified version of the UN’s extensive text is “All children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of activities.”The UN Conventionon the Rights of the Child is something the government formally agreed to 20 years ago, however it still hasn’t been incorporated into UK law or fully into our society.
So how can the play industry use the UNCRC? Providing a service that the government’s agreed to but isn’t fulfilling often ticks another box for funding applications especially when they’re directly from government. It is also worth highlighting in press releases. The public, and therefore the press, are interested to hear about promises made by the government that they haven’t fulfilled. Without noticing it most people like having something to moan about.
I had a great day and I’d like to thank the Association of Play Industries for inviting me to speak at their conference.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment ← Older posts