Children continue to be failed as the system ignores their rights
In the 11th State of Children’s Rights in England report, systematic failures in public services and national policy are exposed as causing too many children to fall through the human rights safety net.
The annual report, compiled by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), draws on hundreds of sources to examine how children and young people are faring in all aspects of their lives. Of the 118 areas identified as needing Government action, 88 of those areas have made no progress or have got worse in the last 12 months.
Read the report.
Paola Uccellari, Director of CRAE said:
“Childhood is a precious time, when we should be free from harm and fear and have the support we need to develop. We expect the state to protect children by ensuring their well-being and best interests are at the heart of public policy and services.
But when we look at all of the issues which have an impact on children in the UK today we can see that too many are still suffering from abuse, poverty and injustice. Too many children are falling through the human rights safety net that is there to protect us all in our everyday lives.
More needs to be done to make basic human rights real for all children. If the government is serious about its commitment to children’s rights, it must take more concrete action to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Key findings from the 2013 report:
Children’s voices are not being heard and not enough is done to protect children at risk of harm
- A review into the death of Daniel Pelka found that there was no record of any conversation with Daniel about his home life, his experiences outside school, or of his relationships. Ignoring Daniel meant that too many opportunities were missed for more urgent and purposeful interventions.
- Children in the care system are often not listened to and not involved in decisions about their lives. In over a quarter of cases reviewed by Ofsted, children were not consistently involved in their care planning. Research has found that 86% of children in care think it is important to keep siblings together, but currently 63% of children in the care system whose siblings are also in care are separated from them.
- 65% of child deaths that were caused by ‘deliberately inflicted injury, abuse or neglect’ were avoidable.
- Infant mortality rates varied significantly according to socio-economic group; for example babies with fathers employed as shelf stackers or care assistants (“semi-routine occupations”) were almost twice as likely to die as those born to professionals.
- Many child abuse victims are left suffering from feelings of trauma, betrayal and stigmatisation because they are not receiving adequate levels of psychological support.
Disadvantaged and vulnerable children are not getting equal access to the support most of us take for granted
- 300,000 more children are now living in absolute low income (an increase of 2% from last year). This rise represents the first percentage point increase since the early 1990’s.
- Poor children are now 4 times more likely to be unhealthy than richer children, and three times more likely to have a mental illness.
- Only 36% of poor pupils, 22.4% of pupils with special educational needs and 15% of looked-after children achieved good GCSE grades (5+ A* to C, including English and Maths) in 2011-12, compared to the national average of 58.8%.
Children’s human rights are being undermined, not protected, by the criminal justice system
- Restraint of children in custody rose by 17%, with numbers of children hospitalised as a result also increasing.
- Children as young as 10 years old can be arrested and taken to court. The Government has no plans to raise this minimum age of criminal responsibility, even though scientific research recognises that this makes no sense because children’s brains aren’t sufficiently developed until much later.
- The already disproportionate number of imprisoned children who are from black and minority ethnic communities grew from 36% of children last year to 38% this year.
- The new system for regulating anti-social behaviour will allow children as young as 10 to be issued with IPNAs (the new ASBOs) for behaviour that is ‘capable of causing nuisance and annoyance’.