Final push in Parliament for children's rights before the 2010 General Election
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England is gearing up for its last Parliamentary push before the General Election on securing children’s rights in the Equality Bill, which enters Committee in the House of Lords next week (11 January). Working with other members of the Young Equals campaign, we lobbied Ministers, civil servants and Parliamentarians throughout 2009 to ensure protection from age discrimination will apply to under 18s as well as to adults. We also want schools and children’s homes to be fully included in equality duties, and the Government to give full consideration to children’s experiences of age discrimination in the guidance it plans to issue once the legislation has been passed.
Another Bill enters Parliament next week – the Children, Schools and Families Bill – that brings welcome new rights for children to Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education and legal guarantees for children and parents about what they can expect from school. We want a duty placed on the Secretary of State to consult children in the development of the “pupil guarantee”. The Bill also removes the “right” of parents to remove children from sex education, once they have reached 15 years (currently set at 19 years). This is a small but significant step towards meeting the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s recommendation in 2002 that sex education be available to all children. In 2008, over 100 non-governmental organisations, co-ordinated by CRAE, submitted a comprehensive report to the UN on the State of children’s rights in England. One of our recommendations was that this parental “right” be removed altogether.
Clause 28 of the new Bill threatens to further erode children’s privacy rights, giving considerably wide powers to Local Safeguarding Children Boards to obtain information from organisations and individuals. We urge MPs to guard children’s privacy rights from more unnecessary intrusions.
As part of the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children, and in order to protect the privacy rights of children, CRAE is urging MPs not to agree any more changes to media reporting of family proceedings.
Schedule 1 of the Bill (given effect by Clause 26) deals with home education and many organisations, including those run by home educated children and young people, are lobbying to defend and strengthen the rights of children.
Also before the General Election, CRAE young children’s rights activists will be holding their Get ready for Parliament! event, reporting on how thousands of children and young people all over England have been campaigning on children's rights issues at the UN, at national level in Parliament and with the Government, and in their local communities. At the event, they'll be asking all delegates to commit to acting on children and young people's human rights concerns.
We await a date for the second reading of the Children's Rights Bill. This is CRAE Patron Baroness Walmsley’s Private Members Bill, supported by the ROCK coalition, to make the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child part of UK law. We hope the second reading of the Bill will provide an opportunity for serious and fruitful debate about the future of children’s rights in the UK, ahead of the election.
Visit our Parliament page for more information about CRAE’s lobbying.