Tag Archives: children

Opinion: In defence of the Scottish Government’s plan for named persons for every child

I am writing this article after becoming increasingly frustrated at the tone and level of debate with which many people in our party are subjecting the Scottish Children and Young People’s bill and in particular the provision for a “named person” for every child.

Many of you will be asking what a “named person” is. If you choose to listen to the Daily Mail, the Christian institute and an assortment of other hysterical social conservatives this represents the introduction of state sponsored guardians whose mission in life is to spy on families and enforce political correctness. However I choose not to listen to these groups. I choose to listen to the countless social workers, teachers, child protections professionals, youth workers and other professionals who are backing this legislation.

What this legislation actually does is provide for a single point of contact for every young person from the ages of zero to eighteen so if ever that young person requires support from services or a welfare issue is raised by professionals, these organisations are operating in tandem rather than working in isolation. This will operate in a similar manner as health visitors supporting mothers and infants. For the vast majority of young people the named person will be a midwife then a health visitor followed by their primary school headteacher and finally their secondary guidance teacher.

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Report shows how extensively this country fails vulnerable children

Yesterday the UK’s Children’s Commissioners published a joint report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. It makes very grim reading. If a child is poor, bullied, suffers mental ill health, gets involved with the criminal or immigration systems or suffers the effects of domestic violence, this country simply does not provide them with what they need. I seriously recommend that you read the whole thing because a few headlines from the press doesn’t quite give the flavour of the extent to which we should be ashamed of ourselves.

We can have all the arguments we like about austerity measures and to what extent they were necessary but this report provides an extensive list of the sorts of problems that we liberals should be putting all our energies into solving. Top of my list would be access to justice and reversing the cuts to legal aid that prevent children being properly represented in cases that affect them. Second would be mental health. The range of things that affect young people’s mental health is huge and we need to look at prevention as well as treatment when things do go wrong.

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Opinion: Politics? It’s child’s play

Toys debate politicsPity, poor Tristram Hunt. On the campaign trail the other day he made the classic mistake of asking a young child how he was going to vote.

Child: “UKIP”

Hunt: “Oh why is that then?

Child: “Because they’ll get all the foreigners out of the country”

To adapt the old adage: Never do politics with children and animals!

For a candidate kids are a minefield but as a parent I’ve been struck by how interested my kids (one pre- teen and one mid primary) have been in this their “first” General Election. They even staged their own election debate with toys which of course I enjoyed as much as they did!

There isn’t much help for parents attempting to introduce their kids to politics and political history.

Even really young American children have reading books about the Founding Fathers, Lincoln and the Roosevelts. Imagine the laughing stock a British parent would be if she went into a bookshop and asked for: “Gladstone and Disraeli for toddlers” or “Learn to read with the Tolpuddle Martyrs”

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Martin Horwood MP writes…Reducing the negative impact of violence on international development

Every five minutes a child dies from violence.

This appalling statistic, released in a new report from Unicef UK today, shows that violence is not confined to an unlucky few or even to war zones. Across the world, millions of children bear the brunt of an epidemic of violence that is often hidden or ignored and that threatens their rights to a healthy, safe and fulfilling life.

Violence manifests itself in many forms. Unicef UK’s research reveals that more than 125 million women, most in early childhood or adolescence, have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). In some regions, the child murder rate is shockingly high, especially for teenagers.  For example, an adolescent boy in Latin America is 70 times more likely to be murdered than in the UK.

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Annette Brooke MP writes… This Mothering Sunday let’s commit to making preventable newborn deaths a thing of the past

New BornLike many mothers and grandmothers in my constituency and around the UK, I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day on Sunday. Not just because it’s welcome time spent with the family, but also because it reminds me of the years of joy I’ve had watching my children and now my grand-daughter grow up.

It is however, a sad time for many in this country who have suffered bereavements. And we also think of the millions of mothers around the world who have not had the chance to watch their children grow …

photo by: BigTallGuy
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Jenny Willott writes… How Lib Dems are giving families choice through shared parental leave and flexible working

Parents and child - Some rights reserved by Ed YourtonAs a mother with two small children myself, I know how hard it can be to balance work and family life. And as a Lib Dem, I firmly believe in equal opportunities for all and tackling discrimination, whatever form it takes.

So I am really excited that with Lib Dems in Government, we are shaking up the status quo to make it easier for parents with young children to arrange their work/life balance however best suits them.

We need to challenge the old-fashioned …

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “The world’s children deserve our protection”

This week Nick reflects on two speeches in two weeks: the first to the party’s conference in Glasgow, the second to the UN general assembly. In one he announced free school lunches for the youngest children in English schools; in the other he announced an extra £100m of aid to help Syrian refugees. As Nick says, “We all hate the idea of a child going hungry. Be they a refugee on the borders of Syria, or the neglected child of a troubled family in an inner city: the world’s children deserve our protection.” You can read the letter in full, below…

libdem letter from nick clegg

Last week, I was at our party conference in Glasgow. This week I’m writing to you on a flight back from the UN in New York, where I spoke at the General Assembly and discussed Syria, Iran UK and arms control.

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URGENT! Just 2 hours to respond to Jim Hume MSP’s consultation on banning smoking in cars where children are present

When I originally flagged up that Jim Hume was intending to introduce a bill to the Scottish Parliament making it illegal to smoke in your car if you had children present, it’s fair to say that it inspired some heated discussion.

And then I’m sure we all forgot about it. I certainly did. Until I saw on Facebook a little while ago that today is the last day to respond to his consultation. By 5pm to be precise. After uttering a few sweary words, I thought I’d better remind you all before I filled it in for myself.

There are 11 …

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Layla Moran writes… Child Detention still happens: Boy held at Campsfield for ‘2-3 months’

It is my belief that in a civilized society we should protect children. That they should not be punished for the actions of their parents or grandparents and that they should be given every chance of leading a fulfilled, healthy and normal childhood. And they most certainly should not be locked up without cause because of their family’s decision either.

Celebrating the end of child detention with Citizens UK #LDConf
Photo: Helen Duffett on Flickr.

Sadly for many years, this was not only true but also prevalent. Children who were here illegally were held in immigration deportation centres for months and sometimes years, were not allowed to go to school, not allowed to develop. A child does not, in full understanding of the consequences, make the decision to enter a country illegally. It would have been the decision of their family in whatever form that may take; yet until 2011 they were punished as equals to these adults.

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Clegg says no to childcare ratio changes. My question is: why’s it the Government’s job to dictate them?

teather_cleggNick Clegg’s statement is categorical — the Coalition is abandoning plans to allow nurseries and childminders in England to look after more children. Revealed in January by Conservative children’s minister Liz Truss, the idea that the ratio for under 2s, for example, could increase from 1:4 to 1:6 was always going to be controversial. Here’s Nick:

“One of my absolute top priorities in government is to deliver better quality, more affordable childcare for parents up and down the country. I will relentlessly champion and pursue policies that deliver that –

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Ignore the papers, here’s the real truth about the Coalition’s plans for childcare”

The latest letter from Nick Clegg to party supporters takes us behind the scenes of the Coalition’s negotiations over how best to help families with the cost of childcare. He dismisses newspaper gossip of splits in the ‘Quad’ as “total nonsense”, before setting out the principles that have guided their decision-making — focusing help on low- and middle-income families, and especially those with kids under 3 who don’t qualify for the current free 15 hours’ early education provision. Here’s Nick’s letter in full…

libdem letter from nick clegg

You’ll often hear politicians say,

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Boris Johnston breaks promise on free Olympics tickets for school children in London

Last November the Mayor of London announced that 125,000 schoolchildren in London would be given free tickets for the Olympic or Paralympic Games. That would have been enough to provide tickets for one in eight London children aged 10 to 18.

But, as reported in the Evening Standard, Lib Dem London Assembly member, Dee Doocey, has asked the Mayor how many tickets were actually allocated to children.  The answer came back: just 95,761 tickets. The remaining 30,000 or so tickets have been given to teachers to accompany them. 

That raises at least two questions:

Why did the Mayor overlook the fact that

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Julian Huppert MP writes: Under-18s must have the right to choose their future

Our constitution has many interesting anomalies, but to me one of the most obvious has always been the way we treat the ‘nearly-adults’ in our society. Our 16 and 17 year olds are subject to a whole set of rules that are thrown out of the window when they turn 18; similarly, they are unable to do a whole set of things that they are suddenly allowed to on that most auspicious day. We don’t let these nearly-adults vote, have credit cards or bind themselves into a credit agreement. They can, however, commit themselves to an extended period in the …

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Sarah Teather MP writes: Share your views on the Bailey Report

You may well have seen the press coverage of Reg Bailey’s report on the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, published earlier this week. While some of the coverage was the sort you’d expect from the conservative-leaning press, most of it was more balanced and thoughtful.
 
As Minister for Children and Families, I’ve been closely involved in this work and I’m really pleased with what he’s come up with. It demonstrates Liberal Democrat values and approaches, and has already started to make a difference in practice – which is what matters.  
 
As we all do when we are out campaigning, he …

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LibLink … Chris Huhne: Britain must stop locking up innocent children

Over at the Independent on Sunday, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne rails against the UK’s asylum system for combining ‘staggering bureaucratic incompetence with institutionalised cruelty’. Here’s an excerpt:

… It is one thing to stamp out abuse among asylum-seekers, but quite another to devise a system that combines staggering bureaucratic incompetence with institutionalised cruelty, for every year we are locking up hundreds and probably thousands of children, who have committed no crime, in prison-like conditions.

We do not know exactly how many, because the Government will not provide regular figures, but in June there were 470 such children, most of

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Daily View 2×2: 13 September 2009

Welcome to the Sunday edition of LDV’s Daily View. And as Mark Pack of this e-parish is (apparently) forraging for chocolate in Bristol, it falls to me to bring you today’s supplement with extra multimedia entertainment.

2 Big Stories

NSPCC and Nick criticise new Government regulations for parent helpers

Today’s Telegraph reports:

Ministers are under intense pressure to scale back plans for a “big brother” child protection database which will force millions of parents to undergo paedophile and criminal checks. In a major blow for the Government, Britain’s largest children’s charity, the NSPCC, criticised the regulations for parent helpers which it said threatened “perfectly safe and normal activities” and risked alienating the public.

The paper also quotes Nick Clegg’s condemnation of Labour’s proposals:

This scheme is wildly over the top. How are we supposed to create a country fit for our children if we regard every adult looking after children as a potential threat?”

TV companies to get product placament approval

The Government is to overturn its ban on TV companies selling product placement in programmes, after culture secretary Ben Bradshaw overturned predecessor Andy Burnham’s objections:

Independent broadcasters will be allowed to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows. The change is intended to bring in extra funds for commercial broadcasters. Experts believe it could raise up to £100m a year.

There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows. Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is expected to announce a three-month consultation on the changes in a speech to the Royal Television Society next week.

The move will not apply to the BBC, and children’s programmes will remain product-placement free. A long-overdue acceptance of commercial reality? Or a retrogade intrusion into public broadcasting space?

2 Must-Read Blog-Posts

Why I Hate Leaflet Delivery (Jennie Rigg)

After about an hour or so of having my knuckles scraped by ridiculously snappy letterboxes, and falling over on uneven paths, and generally feeling pretty battered and bruised and grumpy, I got to a house where a skinhead with no shirt on and a BNP tattoo set his dog on me. … I suspect that this is a big part of the reason political parties are haemorrhaging membership. The expectation that people risk their own personal safety for nothing on a regular basis is not a rewarding experience for the activist.

Why you still don’t know what Party Committees are up to (part 4) – is there an easy answer to the dilemma? (Mark Valladares)

… the whole point of blogging is that it is interactive, or it is nothing. If most committee members don’t blog, don’t engage with the blogosphere, in short, have lives, and do not respond immediately, or even at all, will they be criticised? You bet they will and, like I did, would probably withdraw back into their collective shells.


Sunday Bonus track

You may have noticed a chap called Derren on the telly this week attracting a lot of attention. Here’s a reminder of him at his best:

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Hemming advises couple: move abroad to prevent new-born child being taken into care

The BBC has the story:

A couple have left their home in Essex and moved to Ireland after being warned that their child would be taken into care as soon as it was born. John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, has revealed that the couple have sought his advice after concern over English adoption law.

Mr Hemming called for reform of the law saying the legal system handed “all the aces” to social workers. He said he advises couples to move abroad before legal action is taken. “I don’t advise people to break the law,” he said.

“But

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