Monday, December 04, 2006

Children have their say on rights

Organisers say the project concerns

young emotions and experiences

Thousands of children across Wales will be asked for their views for a United Nations report on children's rights.

The Our Rights, Our Story report will examine how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been implemented in Wales.

The convention, which outlines children's civil, political and cultural rights, was adopted by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2004.

The year-long project is due to be launched in Ammanford and Caernarfon.

Children and young people aged between 11 - 18 from schools and youth groups across all Wales' 22 local authority areas will be asked their views on issues including health, education, poverty and family life.

The information will be presented to the UN next year.

Groups including Welsh children and young people's organisation Funky Dragon and charity Save the Children are involved in compiling the report, which they hope will provide the most comprehensive picture ever of children's rights in Wales.

In addition to a Wales-wide survey, Funky Dragon will conduct focus groups and case studies to get as many children's views as possible.

Melvyn Williams of Funky Dragon said the research would look at child protection, provision and participation.

Mr Williams explained: "We will be asking children if they feel protected - if they feel safe going to school and on the streets.

"Provision means poverty, looking at how many have free school meals and other indicators.
"Participation is whether children are getting their voices heard in school, in their communities or at home."

The information gathered will go into the first UK-wide report to the United Nations as well as more specific reports which will inform government policy in Wales.

Mr Williams said: "This is the first time this information will have come from the UK.

"We'll be surveying thousands of children in 44 schools across Wales.

"When reports to the UN are given by governments, they tend to put a positive spin on things, but this is a chance for children themselves to have their say."

'Long journey'

Rhian Croke, UNCRC monitoring officer for Save the Children Wales, said the purpose of the research was to raise awareness of children's rights as well as find out about issues they may have.

She added: "It's about getting young people to understand they have human rights.
"The UN convention sets a high standard for children's rights but in Wales we are trying to work towards that.

"We haven't met all aspects of children's rights yet and it's going to be a long journey getting there.

"This research is exciting - it's more about the emotions and experiences of young people than about policies."

Source: BBC

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