Tag Archives: children’s rights

Labour join the Tories in trying to remove Young People’s rights

On Monday Keir Starmer had an interview with Mumsnet. He was asked the, by now, depressingly standard question on children and young people having access to treatment and support for gender identity issues. His incompetent response threw every under 16 in the country under the bus.

“I feel very strongly that children shouldn’t be making these very important decisions without the consent of their parents. I say that as a matter of principle. We all know what it’s like with teenage children, I feel very strongly about this. This argument that children should make decisions without the consent of their parents is one I just don’t agree with at all.” – Keir Starmer

In a few sentences Starmer committed the Labour party to undoing nearly 40 years of medico-legal practice in the name of appeasing a tiny minority of authoritarians. At a stroke stating he would deny the children and young people of this country access to everything from paracetamol to abortion, vaccination to blood transfusions, if their parents don’t agree they should have access to it.

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The State of Children’s Rights

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England just published their 2018 report into the State of Children’s Rights. Their report outlines “systemic failures to protect children in England”. They write:

National and local government is failing to protect children in England whilst policymakers focus on Brexit, leaving children traumatised, powerless and vulnerable to abuse in many areas of their lives.

CRAE have used new data, gathered through Freedom of Information requests, in writing this report. It has been thirty years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was adopted by the United Nations, yet the UNCRC has still not been enshrined in British law. I wrote about that four years ago here.

Areas of concern, amongst many, are child homelessness; how children are treated by the police; rising school exclusions; and the increased number of children living in poverty. It is an extensive report, so I can only give a brief overview of each section. Needless to say, I welcome these proposals.

The paper calls for children’s rights impact assessments to be part of any changes to the law in relation to Brexit, including statutory instruments. It also proposes a cabinet minister with responsibility for children’s rights be appointed and that there should be a

statutory obligation on public authorities to conduct child rights impact assessments in all decision-making affecting children, including in budgetary decision-making.

The fullsome section on Poverty and Homelessness has many good suggestions to take children out of poverty, including excluding children’s benefits from the benefit cap and getting rid of the two-child limit on child tax credit and UC. It calls for an abolition of the practice of housing children in B&Bs, hotels or caravan parks.

FOIs carried out by CRAE reveal that 1,173 looked after children were housed in independent accommodation for longer than 6 months.

There were serious issues raised in the Safeguarding section around the rising number of children in care and provision for them; the staggering rise of children suffering abuse and neglect; and the rising number of sexual offences against children. The report calls for children involved in county lines to be treated as victims of trafficking and modern slavery, not criminals.

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WATCH: Willie Rennie questions Nicola Sturgeon about restraint of vulnerable and disabled children

In December, Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner published a shocking report which stated that local authorities risked breaking the law and breaching vulnerable and disabled children’s human rights with the way they used restraint and seclusion.

Out of the 18 local authorities which record such incidents, almost 400 children were subjected to these procedures a total of 2764 times. And 14 local authorities gave no information at all so the overall figure may be higher.

The report made 22 recommendations to which the Scottish Government was to respond to by the end of January.

There was one particularly disturbing account of the seclusion of a child with the mental age of 3:

One time I was called and he was being kept in the cloakroom with the door shut on his own incredibly distressed and not allowed out until I arrived. He was 5 years old with the mental age of a three year old… X very traumatised re the holds and not sleeping well and screaming in his sleep, very reluctant to go into school…

The staff had even put him in a room on his own in a totally unregulated state and held the door handle from the other side and wouldn’t let him out. X. was Distraught.

Willie Rennie asked Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions what the Government was going to say.

Watch the exchange here. The text is below:

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Lack of Services for Disabled Children – Parliamentary Campaign Launch

Yesterday, the Disabled Children’s Partnership campaign was launched in parliament. Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable came along to show his support, as well as many other MPs, peers, charities and family representatives. I was also pleased that former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP, was also able to come meet families. 

The Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) is an exciting new coalition of over 50 disability and children’s charities. I sit on their Public Policy Group as a member of the Fragile X

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Opinion: We need to enshrine children’s rights in law

Our pre-manifesto calls for lowering the voting age to 16, increasing provision for children’s mental health, ring-fencing education budgets from pre-school through to college and committing to end child poverty.  What I’d also like to see is a vision to incorporate the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child into U.K. law.

Why?  We need to empower and enable children.  We need to enshrine their rights in our law.   The Human Rights Act does not mention child-specific rights as set out in the UNCRC: the right to education, the right to protection from violence and abuse, the right to play (wouldn’t it be nice if we all had the right to play?).

I remember being a 9-year old, expressing my point of view and not being taken seriously.  I was furious.  I felt I had a better answer than the adult engaging with me, but I was not listened to because I was a child.

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