Laudable idea, children's rights, isn't it?
Really, without children having rights, I wouldn't be allowing my two to stay up late or to buy what they want with their own money. I would be tempted to sell them into slavery to fund my world cruise.
Badman, of course, defends our children's rights to, well, be talked to by strangers in their own homes. He defends their right to go to school, whether or not the children actually wish to. He wishes to bypass a parent's right to speak for his or her own child - and it is ridiculous to expect that any parent should be cognizant of his or her child's ideas, thoughts and feelings - to manipulate the gift of children's rights to - er - exploit children's inability to reason out an ulterior motive on the part of an 'authority'.
Children's rights are a part of this government's desire to 'safeguard' children. Not all children apparently though.
The Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE's) legal director, Katy Swaine said:
"The UK’s readiness to lock up children and keep them in unsafe conditions – whether in prison or immigration detention - is a national scandal of which we should all feel deeply ashamed. Unless the present Government takes urgent action, its legacy will be to leave us with thousands of vulnerable children locked up unnecessarily in unsafe conditions, with still no public inquiry into any child death in custody nor into the unlawful use of physical force on children. How long must children wait before the Government finds the courage to stand up for them and meet its legal obligations?
High aspirations – for all children?
All the main political parties express high aspirations for the nation’s children. However, these aspirations do not always extend to all children. In his 2007 Children’s Plan, the UK’s first Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families set out a ten-year strategy for making England the ‘best place in the world for children and young people to grow up’. This cannot be achieved until the challenge of reforming the juvenile justice system is wholeheartedly taken on by Government at the highest level, and until children’s best interests are truly prioritised in the immigration system.
Following the tragic death of Baby Peter, the Government has again keenly focused attention on improvements to the child protection system, recognising that the best way to keep children safe is to respect their rights – including their right to be heard. However, despite 30 child deaths in custody since 1990 and overwhelming evidence of the harm caused to children by immigration detention, we have so far seen nothing like the same strong leadership from Government Ministers on behalf of children deprived of their liberty.
Immigration detention of children – a national scandal
They pushed me on the floor and got my hands behind me… then they took me to the van. I was on my own in the van and I didn’t know what was happening to my family. (11 year-old child, UK, 2009)
In 2008 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticised the UK for its continued detention of children and young people for immigration purposes. Yet despite heavy criticism and clear evidence that detaining children and their families is deeply damaging for children and young people, the Government’s policy remains unchanged. "
Once again, it is only SOME children who have rights or whose rights are respected. Those of home educators'. Our children are in a privileged position indeed.
"Official figures show that children are restrained an average of 656 times a month in the English and Welsh juvenile secure estate. Two inspectorate reports published this year reveal that shocking restraint practices continue in child prisons. In relation to HMYOI Cookham Wood, inspectors describe ‘an unsafe and poorly controlled environment’ with high levels of use of force and a ‘safeguarding policy’ which remains ‘largely unimplemented.’
Every Child Matters? Well, only when they are being used as political footballs.
Leaving aside the fact that the average evolved state finds it abhorrent in the extreme to maltreat children in any way, even when the children are being punished, does the fact that home educated children would, under another Labour government, be regimented and overlooked add anything to the home educated child's life. Apparently not, says American research (obtained from super-blogger Kelly Green and Gold):
" The authors of this study find no evidence from their analysis that supports the claim that states should exercise more regulation of homeschool families and students in order to assure better academic success in general or improved higher-education success in particular. On the contrary, the findings of this study are consistent with other research findings that homeschool students perform well academically – typically above national averages on standardized achievement tests and at least on par with others on college-admissions tests – and do so regardless of whether they live in a state that applies low, moderate, or high governmental regulation of homeschooling.”
So, given five minutes or so of touring the internet, Mr. Badman, there is evidence to suggest that bug-eyed inspectors make not a jot or a tittle worth of difference to the process of home education. Isn't that evidence that it should be dropped? The whole idea should be kicked into the long grass and forgotten, along with manicuring all our green spaces, thereby contaminating eco-systems, and removing benches near beauty spots where elderly people are happy to spend some time enjoying the views.
Even this - the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights - says that the child, after expressing his or her views has the right to be informed of the possible consequences of compliance with these views and the possible consequences of any decision, not just to be consulted or to express his or her views (and then be ignored) :
A. Procedural rights of a child
Article 3 – Right to be informed and to express his or her views in proceedings
A child considered by internal law as having sufficient understanding, in the case of proceedings before a judicial authority affecting him or her, shall be granted, and shall be entitled to request, the following rights:
to receive all relevant information;
to be consulted and express his or her views;
to be informed of the possible consequences of compliance with these views and the possible consequences of any decision. "
The intention of this convention is quite clearly to be informed and instructed by the child's opinions, not just to manoevre a child into saying what you wish the child to say.
From the magnificent book, What's Wrong with Children's Rights:
"... the law should refrain from intruding on the ordinary practices of adults responsible for children."
I believe it can be argued that many children in many countries need the protection of the United Nations Rights of the Child. I think it can also be said that the United Kingdom, other than for incarcerated children, does not need the protection of the UNCRC. In elevating children's rights above parental duties, we run the risk of losing the cohesion that a family gives and the circle of protection and safety that the majority of familes afford their young, especially from the overzealous depradations of the state.