history there has been a major hypocrisy when it comes to children and the way they have been treated. On the one hand children are the most precious commodity on earth. They are the future politicians, doctors, and evangelists that will grow up to lead the world. They are the people who will eventually cure disease, invent marvelous contraptions and change the world. By all intents and purposes children are the world's most precious commodity and those in the United Kingdom are included in the lot. However throughout the history of the United Kingdom children for the most part have not had a lot of rights or protections afforded them. In more recent history this pattern began to change and as those changes took place the true nature of the wrongs of the past came to light. As the United Kingdom continued to work toward change the issue of children's rights came under fire. Those who believe children are not given enough rights pushed to provide legal protections and mandates for them in the future. Those who believe children do not need rights anymore than they need to vote, drink or drive, believe that it is the duty of their parents to protect the children when needed. Unfortunately the issue of child abuse enters the equation and it becomes evident that it is not always the parents who are going to protect the children. This paper will attempt to explore the issue of children's rights from both sides of the issue and explain each side's views and stands. The paper will use mandates already in place and also propose new ideas as it works to uncover the best interest of the children it envelopes.
Every so often on the news channels residents of the United Kingdom see a story about child abuse that is shocking. In one such case a little girl named Victoria Climbie was abused so badly the hardest of professional hearts had to stop and catch their breath when they were apprised of the events of the child's short lived life.
The child had been entrusted to a great aunt so that the child could get a better education according to court records. She was so badly abused by this aunt and the aunt's boyfriend that even the most stoic reporter was shocked beyond belief.
Her treatment included making her sleep naked each night in a bath, without blankets or heating, her arms and legs bound with masking tape. After some time she was put in a black plastic sack and forced to lie in her own excrement and urine. She was fed as a dog by having her face pushed into a plate while she was tied up in the bath. She was assaulted repeatedly by Kouao and hit with a bicycle chain by Manning. 'To say that Kouao and Manning treated Victoria like a dog would be wholly unfair,' said Mr. Garnham. "
The child was seen by hospitals and doctors who suspected abuse and notified the authorities. The authorities sent the child back to the aunt with the belief that case workers would look into the matter. This never happened and before long the little girl was dead, murdered at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect her.
While cases like Victoria's make national news and shock the sensibilities of many, there are many other cases that never get to the televisions or radios and nobody ever hears of the scared abused children who are the victims of such things.
There are many ways for a child to have their rights violated. They can be beaten, or hurt physically but there are other rights that can be violated without that occurring. Children can be neglected in many ways. They can be mistreated in the area of food, shelter and clothing. They can mistreated by not having legal rights in the court system or they can be mistreated by not having the right to speak up about their treatment.
For many years children in the United Kingdom had no rights. The national government believed that the parents of the children would provide what the children needed and also would bring attention to the authorities anything that the children suffered from and needed help with. In recent history it has been realized world wide as well as in the United Kingdom that this is not always the case, and even when it is the lack of rights for children often prevented effective protections for those children.
When the United Nations recently decided to author a child right mandate the United Kingdom assisted by providing its major child right developments that it had been developing for its own use. Before the United Kingdom began to revamp the way its children were being protected and treated many nations in the world frowned on its lack of children's rights and protections. Fiction stories throughout history have depicted the horrors that United Kingdom children had to endure and many of the famous United Kingdom residents come out of there telling stories of what their lives were like as children regarding any rights they were deprived of. The United Kingdom recently submitted two reports to the United Nations in which it detailed the changes it was making regarding the rights it was willing to provide for the children in its region.
The report, which covers the period 1994-99 shows how those developments in law, policy and practice have reinforced the UK's compliance with the Convention over the past five years, and reflects improved integration in the approach to provision for children. The Second UK Report coincides closely with the creation of the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the new Assembly in Northern Ireland and therefore includes chapters which focus on developments in those parts of the UK. "
Some of the things that have been addressed in the changes the United Kingdom policy on children's rights included:
Quality Protects, a major three-year programme to transform the public care system;
Sure Start, a programme to provide support for 0- to 3-year-olds and their families in deprived areas;
the National Childcare Strategy, to ensure good quality, affordable childcare to help up to one million children aged 0-14 by 2003;
the allocation of GBP435 million from National Lottery funds for out of school hours learning, including GBP220 million to create 865,000 childcare places;
extra resources to cut class sizes for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds to 30 or below;
guarantee of a nursery education place for every 4-year-old and a free nursery education place for 66% of three-year-olds by 2002;
Tackling drugs to build a better Britain, a ten-year strategy;
the Protection of Children Act 1999;
issue of the consultation paper, "Supporting Families";
establishment of a register under the Sex Offenders Act 1967 which enables police to keep track of convicted sex offenders.
According to the government of the United Kingdom these and other measures are being implemented for children because of the value its society places on its children.
Our society cares about children, wants the best for them and recognises that they are the country's most valuable resource. That is why the Government has acted to strengthen the protection of children from abuse, and why we are improving services to children right across the board. "
Hiscott, Graham (2002). UK law on hitting children outdated
Birmingham Post; Author
Even given the recent changes and improvements that the United Kingdom has been implementing in the effort to provide protections and rights for its children the United Nations said it was not enough. The problem is in a law in the United Kingdom that allows parents to hit their children. The United Nations has moved to urge the British Government to change the laws it had in place that allowed parents to "smack" their children. "In its report on the UK's record of protecting children it said the Government should outlaw all corporal punishment in the family. "
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said it 'deeply regrets' the UK retained the defence of 'reasonable chastisement' despite the recommendations a damning report it published in 1995."
The UN recommended to the United Kingdom at that time that the British government develop and promote measures of positive reinforcement for the children living in its boundaries. Several suggestions were made for this to occur. One od the suggestions made was to provide public education programmes for parents to know how to properly discipline their children. The United Kingdom took several of the suggestions into account and provided positive means of discipline suggestions for its residents.
One of the things that the United Kingdom did to improve the rights of its children was to develop and implement the Children Act 1989. The Act is a blueprint of the way the United Kingdom wants its children treated and respected. The rights of its children have been clearly laid out in the Act.