Strengthening the legal framework for children

The Coram Foundation was set up in the name of Thomas Coram who challenged the prejudices of a society which tolerated child poverty and abandonment as necessary evils.  He established the Foundling Hospital in 1739 for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children”. The Foundation has just publish a report which includes a section on ‘Strengthening the legal framework for children’ as one of 8 areas to ensure that all children have the best possible chance in life.

The report points out that:

‘The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a broad treaty providing comprehensive protection for children’s social, economic, cultural and civil rights.

Whilst the UK has signed up to the UNCRC, it is not incorporated in domestic law in England or Northern Ireland, and only limited rights are enshrined in Scottish law. In Wales, Ministers are required to have due regard to the rights contained in the treaty. The European Union (EU) has committed to the fundamental rights of children through the Charter of Fundamental Rights which contains provisions inspired by the UNCRC, including adopting the best interests principle, and the child’s right to be heard.

As the UK prepares to leave the rights framework of the EU, it is an opportunity for parliament to ensure that vital rights for children are protected and continue to be promoted across a diverse range of areas, including: criminal and family justice, non-discrimination, child trafficking, sexual exploitation and health and safety.’

The Alliance for Childhood has as one of its pillars the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of our concerns at the present time is the lack of consideration of children in policy and other decision making processes and how to encourage listening to the needs of children to have space to move around and play particularly in the urban environment. We welcome this report and hope that it will get the attention it deserves and people who are in a position to do so act to improve the dire situation in the UK that many children find themselves in at this time.

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