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Policies - Childen's Rights

Much has been made of the rights of children, and children these days. Children use these words without proper understanding of their meaning. Teaching citizenship is fine if the children have a sufficient level of development to comprehend rights and responsibilities go together and they are not there to be abused in order to avoid responsibility for their actions.

One question we would like to ask is: Who informs children that they can only sue for wrongdoing by the State Authorities until they are 18…who is there to inform the children that they can take action and get their own legal advisor to fight for their right to family life and to not suffer degrading treatment at the hands of State Authorities?

When the children’s voice is being much more taken into account who informs the children that the Authorities may indeed manipulate their words, ignore them or invent them to keep mother custody at all costs or to hide their wrongdoing?

Just tell the children that we are here to help them avoid any such ill treatment.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was drawn up in 1989 and gives children and young people under 18 their own special set of rights. On the 16th December 1991, the United Kingdom adopted the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that legally children and young people must be treated fairly.

The UNCRC has 54 'Articles', which are about rights to different things. The UNCRC uses the word 'children' to cover everyone under 18. All young people have rights
• You have the right to be protected from discrimination, whatever your race, sex, colour, religion or anything else.
• When any decisions are made about you, your best interests should be put first.
• All children have the right to life and to grow up.
• You have the right to say what you think, and to have your opinion taken seriously, especially if it's about something that affects you - like your school, family decisions or a court case that involves you.
• You have the right to express yourself freely, and to get the information you need and pass it on, unless this might harm other people.
• You have the right to get useful information from the media, but the government must protect you from any harmful material.
• [Articles 2, 3, 6, 12, 13, 17]
your personal rights
• You have the right to a name and a nationality. These, and your family background, make up your basic identity. If you lose any of these (maybe because you become a refugee), you have the right to trace your family and re-establish your nationality.
• You have the right to think and believe what you like, and choose your own religion, but your parents should guide you. You mustn't break the law when saying or doing what you believe.
• You have the right to privacy - like keeping a diary that other people shouldn't read.
• If you are disabled, you have the right to special care and education to help you live a full and independent life.
• If you belong to a minority group (because of your race, religion or language), you have the right to enjoy your own culture, follow your religion and use your own language. You have the right to special protection if you're a refugee and have been forced to leave your country because of danger.
• [Articles 7, 8, 14, 16, 22, 23, 30]
your family & home
• Your parents or guardians are responsible for bringing you up, and the government must support them. As you grow up, your parents or guardians should respect your ability to understand, and encourage you to do things for yourself.
• You have the right to live with your parents, if you want to, and to keep in touch with both of them if they separate.
• No one has the right to hurt you. Adults must protect you from violence, abuse or neglect, and if you do get hurt, they must do something about it.
• If you haven't got a family, you have the right to special care - which might mean being adopted, fostered, or living in another kind of home. If you're adopted, your wishes and needs should be put first - not your parents' or any other adults'. If you're 'in care', you have the right to have your case checked regularly to make sure that you're being treated properly. You have the right to whatever social security benefits the government provides.
• You have the right to enough to eat, adequate clothes, and a roof over your head. If your parents, or whoever looks after you, can't afford these, the government should help them.
• [Articles 5, 9, 18,19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27]
your school & work
• You have the right to education and it should be free at primary level.
• If you're punished at school, your dignity must be respected. The aims of education are to develop your personality and talents, prepare you for life as a grown-up, and teach you to respect other people's rights. This includes learning to respect and tolerate different ways of life, different values, and the environment.
• You have the right not to do harmful work. Work should not stop you from learning, being healthy, or growing up. The government must set a minimum age for when children can work, and make sure that you're not working in bad conditions.
• You have the right not to be sexually exploited or abused. No one has the right to do things to your body without your permission. Adults must protect you from prostitution and pornography.
• If you're under 15, you shouldn't have to fight wars or be in an army.
• [Articles 28, 29, 32, 34, 38]
your community & environment
• You have the right to meet other people and join or set up your own groups, as long as this doesn't interfere with other people's rights.
• You have the right to grow up healthy, which means getting proper healthcare and information to help you stay healthy.
• You have the right to play, and to relax by doing things like sport, music, drama and art.
• You have the right to be protected from drugs - you shouldn't be forced to take them, make them, or deal them.
• You have the right not to be tortured, treated cruelly, killed, jailed for life, unlawfully arrested or unlawfully jailed. If you are jailed, you have the right to be kept separate from adults, to see your family, and to get legal help.
• If you break the law, or are accused of doing something wrong, you still have the right to be treated with respect, get legal help, and have a fair hearing.
• You have the right to be protected from war. If you're hurt by war, torture, or any other abuse, you have the right to special care to help you get over it.
• [Articles 15, 24, 31, 33, 37, 39, 40]

How does the Convention work?
Nearly every country in the world has signed up and agreed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UNCRC is important because:
• it lists all children's rights in one document
• it makes adults see children as individuals with rights
• it applies to all children and young people everywhere
• it covers the full range of human rights.

Know your rights
Knowing the law and your rights at work helps you look out for yourself and others.

Everyone has human rights. It's everyone's responsibility to respect your rights, including the right to basics like food, clean water, shelter, health, education, and the right not be abused or discriminated against. You are also entitled to have a say in all decisions that affect you.

By signing the UNCRC the UK government has agreed to respect all of these rights and more. The UN makes regular checks to make sure the government sticks to its promises.

The UNCRC says you have a right to be protected from exploitation and from doing any type of work that could harm you in any way.

Know the law
Many employers don't know the laws about young people at work and ignore their legal obligations, such as making sure that you're working in a healthy and safe situation.
if you're under 18
you are not allowed to work in places where there is alcohol or gambling, where you will have to carry heavy loads, clean machinery or work with dangerous substances.
if you're aged 16 or 17
-you're entitled to 12 hours uninterrupted rest in each 24-hour work period.
-you're entitled to two days off every week.
-if you work more than four and a half hours at a stretch you have a right to 30 minutes rest.

if you're under 16
-you can't work without an employment card issued by your local authority.
- you can't work for more than one hour before school, at all during school hours, before 7am or after 7pm.
-you can work up to 17 hours a week during term time, and up to 25 hours a week in the holidays (35 hours if you are 15 or over).
- you can work up to five hours on Saturdays (eight hours if you are 15 or over) and up to two hours on Sundays.
-you have a legal right to a break of at least one hour after every four hours work.
- throughout the whole year, you must take at least two consecutive weeks school holiday without working.

if you're under 15
-it's illegal for you to have a full-time job.
-if you're under 14
-it's illegal for you to work at all except in certain circumstances as set out by your local authority.

Going for a job
It's easiest to find work through local contacts. Ask in shops and businesses around where you live, check out the local job centre, newsagents and local papers, and ask people you know.
Before you start, ask about your hours, lunch break and rest breaks.
When and how do you get paid - hourly, daily, monthly, cash in hand or through the bank?
What about expenses? Who will pay for any special clothing and keep it clean?
If you can't come in one day, how do you let them know?
Agree on arrangements for ending your employment - do you or your employer need to give notice, and if so, how long?
Before accepting the job, ask yourself if the hours are realistic, and whether the journey and work situation is safe.
Ask for written details of your employment (like a contract) and keep that safe.
Tell the adults at home what you are doing and give them your work contact details.

Sorting out problems
• Most problems at work can be sorted out by talking them through with an adult you trust.
• If you're under 16, you can also contact the Local Authority Education Welfare Service, which issued you your employment card.

There are other ways to get help and advice:

Has your employer suddenly changed your agreed work terms (like your hours, wages or conditions)? Contact the Advisory Concilliation and Arbritration Service on 08457 474747 or visit www.acas.org.uk.

You can also contact the Low Pay Unit's advice line on 020 7387 2910 or the Citizens Advice Bureau (find your local branch in Yellow Pages, call 0845 050 5152 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk).

For questions about your hours and health at work, contact the Health and Safety Executive infoline on 0870 154 5500.

Contact the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for information and advice on employment issues. Call 0870 600 4882, visit www.tuc.org.uk or e-mail info@tuc.org.uk.

If you think you are being abused - physically, sexually, or emotionally - tell an adult you trust straight away. If you can't, call Childline free for confidential help and advice on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.

The Rights of Children and Young People
The philosophy of the Children Act 1989 is to encourage parents to agree about their children's future welfare when they separate or divorce by providing continuing parental responsibility for divorced parents and by requiring the courts not to make court orders unless it is better to do so for the child. This approach has been underpinned by the development of mediation, a process designed to help parents reach agreement about issues with regard to their children - and in relation to housing and finances too. In practice the emotional distress of adults in family break up usually predominate and the interests of children are all too frequently given little priority.

D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust and Another; MAK and Another v Dewsbury Healthcare NHS Trust and Another; RK and Another v Oldham NHS Trust and Another [2003] EWCA Civ 1151

Children wrongly diagnosed as abused or taken into care within the last 21 years have recently won the right to sue the medical or health care professionals involved. In granting the right to sue the Court of Appeal has lifted a longstanding immunity in favour of health care professionals and social workers. The Court of Appeal lifted the immunity due to the passage of the Human Rights Act, 1998 which has placed local authorities under an obligation to protect children in line with the European Convention on Human Rights

Useful Organisations

Advisory Centre for Education


Children's Rights Alliance for England

Children's Legal Centre


National Youth Advocacy Service

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility (PR) describes the legal relationship between parents - and in certain circumstances other adults - and their child(ren). PR normally lasts until the child is 18. It is not defined in the Children Act and contains no requirement to promote the child's welfare or to consult the child in decision-making. The way adults exercise their PR should reflect the evolving capacities, and age and maturity of the child. There are a range of laws which give children rights at different ages. In practice, young people at 16 are relatively independent.

The Children Act 1989 does not require parents or others with parental responsibility to consult their children or to take their views into account in making decisions about their upbringing. However, in 1985 the House of Lords said that parental powers to control their children dwindle as the child matures. The rights of parents should give way to the child's right to make decisions when 'he or she is of sufficient understanding and intelligence' to be able to make up his or her own mind. This is known as the Gillick principle. This notion of children's rights to respect for their evolving capacities in parental decision making is also reflected in Article 5 of the UNCRC .

Other people in charge of children, such as childminders, teachers or foster carers, do not have parental responsibility. However, they do have a duty of care to behave as a reasonable parent would do to ensure the child's safety. This is sometimes called 'in loco parentis'. In an emergency they can take reasonable steps to promote the child's welfare.

For more searchable information about the protection and welfare of children, including what the Child Act says, residence orders, contact orders, and parental responsibility look at www.compactlaw.co.uk/child.html

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