Monday, 16 November 2009

Do Jersey children have rights?

Apologies for the past ill-treatment of thousands of British children are being uttered in Australia and Prime Minister Brown is working up towards it. But who will apologise for the treatment that British children receive today and who gives a damn about children in Jersey?

We should not “kid” ourselves that Deputy Judy Martin’s well meaning but inadequate reforms will do anything very useful. The Health Department’s funding sounds ok but it is just a cosmetic sticking plaster remedy for the immense and far reaching problems that face children in Jersey.

It is time to get realistic.

November 20th is UN International Children’s Day and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been around for 20 years. Yet the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) has prepared a damning report which shows how children’s rights in the UK continue to be abused on a systematic basis. Children under detention are especially vulnerable and English child protection services “are not fit for purpose.”

The problem lies not with the UN Convention but with the entrenched failures of governments and the public to embrace change.
Jersey still refuses to ratify CRC and very few people have even bothered to read it.

The Childrens Rights Alliance is fighting in England for the full implementation of CRC there – but NOBODY is doing so in Jersey. There is certainly no alliance of like minded people promoting children’s rights in Jersey although there has been no shortage of reports published in the past few years – usually by outside organisations.

As is usual in this island, where prima donnas outnumber the chorus, working together for a common cause seems to be reserved only to the pursuit of profit. The pursuit of protection for children is very low on the agenda.

Those people who have experienced child abuse in Jersey, either at first or second hand seem to find organised and effective lobbying especially difficult. Understandably, there is a great deal of personal anger but it does not translate easily into coordinated campaigning - and professional bodies and so called elected representatives are noticeable, for the most part by their absence. When did Jersey ever have a campaigning GP? Do Jersey doctors and other health or education professionals NEVER make a policy statement on anything of public interest?

How is it possible that the thousands of professionally qualified people supposedly engaged in children’s welfare, education, justice, punishment, health, housing and recreation have so little to offer by way of public comment? Don’t they have children of their own?

The Swine Flu jabs currently being offered demonstrate just how the “official” line is seldom if ever challenged by other “professionals”. How shall the general public in Jersey ever become better informed if professional silence is maintained on so many matters?

In most communities it is the professionals who lead the public debate. In Jersey, like so many others, the professional are restrained from speaking out or even giving advice to lobbyists and our 250 Jersey qualified lawyers are hardly human rights pioneers. When did the Society of Jersey Lawyers last call for ratification of CRC?

So don’t be fooled into believing that any current official Jersey initiative will address the many problems for children. Without active and coordinated lobbying every abuse that you can imagine will be inflicted in the future just as it has in the past.

The starting point for Jersey’s reality check is ratification of CRC. That won’t solve any problems on its own but without it - the rest is a more or less total waste of money, effort and time.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just look how people are queuing up to disagree and point out that people in Jersey really do care about children and that they really do want the island government to ratify the Convention and that they really really would join a Jersey alliance if only somebody would start the ball rolling.......

oh sorry - did I have a bad dream or something - let's discuss something more interesting like car alarms for a change.