This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Children are people not objects of concern"

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the high court judge who chaired the Cleveland child sex abuse inquiry in the late 1980s, has been announced as the person to Chair the wide ranging inquiry into what might be termed 'institutional child sexual abuse'. There is a good Guardian article about her background here, and which is supportive of her appointment.

Concerns have been raised about a possible conflict of interests by both Keith Vaz (Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee) that she is member of the House of Lords (one of the institutions to be investigated) and due to the fact that her brother was former Tory attorney general Sir Michael Havers at the same time as when many of the notable events were occurring. (Sir Michael died more than 20 years ago.) These will confronted probably by a combination of careful process and not least by Baroness Butler-Sloss' redoubtable independence of thought (she is a cross bencher and widely respected for humanity.)

And now we await to see who will join her on the panel: these are critical appointments of people who must have the capability and passion to search relentlessly for the truth and a positive way forward.

Now seems like a good time to remind ourselves of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I like this version, as it is written in my kind of language:
“Rights" are things every child should have or be able to do. All children have the same rights. These rights are listed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Almost every country has agreed to these rights. All the rights are connected to each other, and all are equally important. Sometimes, we have to think about rights in terms of what is the best for children in a situation, and what is critical to life and protection from harm. As you grow, you have more responsibility to make choices and exercise your rights.
Here are one or two:
  • Article 1 Everyone under 18 has these rights.
  • Article 2 All children have these rights, no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do,
  • what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability, whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis. 
  • Article 3 All adults should do what is best for you. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.
  • Article 4 The government has a responsibility to make sure your rights are protected. They must help your family to protect your rights and create an environment where you can grow and reach your potential. 
  • and... Article 34 You have the right to be free from sexual abuse.
There are 54 articles in all.

And I came across an entirely different version (as it were) from a Findhorn catalogue (grateful thanks) many years ago. I use this version to remind me my responsibilities as a parent and an adult:

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