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News from the field of Child and Youth Care

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20 NOVEMBER

European Commission: Leave no child behind - Joint statement on the occasion of Universal Children's Day

Ahead of the Universal Children's Day on 20 November, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Society and Digital Economy made the following statement:

"The rights of the child are human rights. They are indivisible, universal and inalienable. As the European Union, we strive to protect and promote the rights of every child. It is our collective obligation and duty and a principle enshrined in the Treaty of the European Union.

A child is a child first and foremost. Every girl and every boy deserves a childhood and it is our responsibility, institutions and societies at large, to make sure that they are never deprived of this right – no matter their ethnicity, gender, religion, or, sometimes, the challenging living environments. No matter whether inside or outside the EU – no child should be left behind. Every voice should be heard.

Across the world, 16,000 children die every day, mostly from preventable or treatable causes. Every five minutes, a child dies as a result of violence in their homes, schools, and communities. Around the world, girls and boys are victims of sexual abuse, deprived of education and living in poverty. Worldwide, 152 million children are victims of child labour and more than 50 million have migrated or are forcibly displaced today. This is why we are working every day, on all fronts and around the world, to provide long-term, sustainable and positive change for children, to ensure their protection, to end violence against children in emergencies and to provide them with their right to education and offer perspectives for the future. Whilst the EU's efforts are mobilised from the earliest onsets of a crisis – children's rights and protection concern everyone. We will continue working with partner countries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and civil society.

Through our humanitarian funding we have supported the education of over 4.7 million children in 50 countries. Projects bringing education to almost half a million Syrian children are under way. Through our development cooperation projects in Mauritania, we help to protect and reintegrate domestic child workers. In Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are helping children impacted by armed violence. In addition, we have stepped up our action and made the protection of children in migration a top priority across all our actions.

Young people shape economic, democratic and societal change. We need to invest in their future and allow them to determine themselves the best solutions to the challenges ahead. This is why youth is the guiding theme of the upcoming African Union – European Union Summit. We need to ensure young people's political participation and provide them with a platform to be "agenda-setters".

Our children are the most vulnerable citizens in our societies. They are the present and the future of our world. We will stand up to our commitment and leave no child behind."

Background

Worldwide, 152 million children are victims of child labour. Research shows that more than 80% of the children in orphanages are not orphans, but are placed there due to reasons such as poverty, disability, and marginalisation - or because of trafficking. And over 15% of the victims of trafficking in human beings registered in the EU in the period 2012 – 2014 are girls and boys.

Children are particularly vulnerable in conflict and crisis situations. Around the world, more than 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced. To the EU, more than 250,000 children arrived by sea to Greece and Italy in 2015. Out of 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, 60% are children, while the United Nations recorded at least 15,500 violations against children in armed conflict in 2016.

The EU is a world leader in providing humanitarian support for children, helping deliver food, water, sanitation, healthcare and protection. In Libya, we are giving special attention to work on school rehabilitation, non-formal education and on providing support to transitional care institutions for unaccompanied and separated children. In Jordan and Nicaragua, we address gender-based sexual violence. The EU's commitment to support the provision of safe, inclusive and quality education in emergencies has reached 6% of the overall humanitarian aid budget in 2017, and will increase to 8% in 2018.

The EU actions at the external front are consolidated in the Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the EU Foreign Ministers in June 2017. The Guidelines provide practical guidance to strengthen the promotion and protection of children, support our partner countries in doing so and further strengthen cooperation with international organisations and civil society. Child protection is also a central priority in the European Agenda on Migration. In April 2017 the Commission put forward a set of actions to reinforce the protection of all migrant children at all stages of the process, including access to healthcare, education and legal assistance and a swift determination of their status to provide guardianship or facilitate family reunifications.

In this digital age, the EU is a key player in creating a child-friendly and protective environment in the digital sphere. In 2017, through the Better Internet for Kids Strategy, the EU has supported children to learn, express themselves and critically assess what they discover online in order to become responsible and resilient digital citizens.

19 November 2017

Source: European Commission 

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AUSTRALIA

Northern Territory government to close Don Dale in three months

Darwin's notorious Don Dale Youth Detention Centre will shut down within three months as the Northern Territory government attempts to close a dark chapter inside its youth prisons.

The government has also agreed to the immediate closure of Don Dale's high security unit where boys were tear-gassed. The incident was just part of the scandal that sparked the inquiry into child protection and detention.

"This royal commission very much began there and it needs to end there," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

The $54 million commission's final report was released on Friday, with the Territory government giving "in principle" support to its recommendation for an Australian-first increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 12.

Commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda have pushed for a major policy shift favouring rehabilitation and community-led measures over 'tough on crime' solutions.

In response, Mr Gunner has promised the most comprehensive overhaul in Territory history, allocating $50 million towards setting up juvenile justice infrastructure and asking the commonwealth to match it.

The Labor government is yet to commit to recommendations to end the detention of youngsters under 14 years who haven't committed serious crimes, and to stop the use of restraints and isolation for managing behaviour.

The commissioners said systemic failures occurred over many years and were ignored at the highest levels, and Mr Gunner apologised for the stain this left on the Territory's reputation.

"But more than this, I'm sorry for the stories that live in the children we failed," he said. "Youth justice is supposed to make our kids better, not break them."

The lawyer for Dylan Voller, who was infamously put in a spithood and shackled to a restraint chair, said he was locked up in appalling conditions and "forgotten about until it became convenient to demonise" him.

Peter O'Brien said the 20-year-old and other former detainees who had the fortitude to give evidence have been vindicated, while Voller told NITV he feared for some friends who were still serving time.

"These recommendations should be not only for the Northern Territory, but for all states across Australia," Voller said.

Former CLP corrections minister John Elferink, who was sacked over the 2014 gassing incident, told Sky News the three-month timeline to close Don Dale was unrealistic. There was nowhere else to put the 35 kids currently behind bars, he said.

The inquiry made adverse findings against Mr Elferink and another former corrections minister, Gerry McCarthy.

Mr McCarthy rejected the previous Labor government's own expert panel advice that Don Dale needed to be replaced, and is currently serving as Housing Minister.

But Mr Gunner defended his cabinet colleague, stating "If we were to make a judgement call right now on anyone who made a mistake in youth justice, we'd have a very small workforce".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn't guaranteed any cash for the recommendations, but said they hold lessons for the entire country.

The inquiry believes they'll save nearly $336 million over the next decade if its recommendations are implemented.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations chief executive Pat Turner called on Mr Turnbull to "put his money with his mouth is".

"You don't set up a royal commission and then walk away from the implementation," she said.

NT Children's Commissioner Colleen Gwynne said political leadership and bipartisan support is crucial to ensure the report doesn't gather dust.

"We're talking about a 10-year strategy here, this isn't something we're going to fix within this term of government," she said.

17 November 2017

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15 NOVEMBER

CANADA

Ontario promoting reading and literacy amongst First Nations children

Ontario has partnered with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library literacy program to provide First Nations children living on-reserve with free books to foster a love of reading and help them reach their full potential.

The Imagination Library is a monthly book service that provides books free of charge, to children up to age 5, who are enrolled in licensed child care centres and child and family programs on-reserve. To date, 36 First Nation communities have signed on to the Imagination Library program, registering 753 children.

The Imagination Library is a non-profit foundation that promotes literacy skills, and a solid foundation of reading and learning. The monthly book service focuses on early childhood learning and encourages positive interactions between parents and their children. It also improves a child's readiness for kindergarten, and sets the foundation for success in school and in life.

Helping children reach their full potential is one of many steps on Ontario's journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government's commitment to work with Indigenous partners, and rebuild relationships based on trust and respect with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

Quick facts

• Ontario has committed $500,000, over two years, to the Dollywood Foundation of Canada to support the literacy program.
• Research shows that there are positive relationships between quality early learning and child care, child development outcomes, and a parent’s ability to work. This is particularly true for vulnerable children.

9 November 2017

Ministry of Education 

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13 NOVEMBER

NEW ZEALAND

Where to next for children’s rights?

Calls from the Children’s Commissioner to ensure that children and the rights of children are at the heart of policy and legislative reform are supported by the Human Rights Commission.

The UNCROC Monitoring Group, which the Human Rights Commission is part of, has today released the Getting It Right – The Children’s Convention in Aotearoa report about how New Zealand is putting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children’s Convention) into practice, and where it can do better.

Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says the report’s recommendations gives the Government a clear steer on where to next for children’s rights.

“Key issues such as housing, education, abuse, poverty and bullying in schools continue to have an immense impact on the lives and rights of our youngest New Zealanders and that has to be addressed.

“For too long, policy and legislation has been developed for and about children and young people, without involving them in the process.

“While the new Government has many policies targeted at addressing some key issues, reducing bullying in New Zealand schools does not appear to be an area of focus yet. Education Ministers have recognised for decades that the level of bullying in our schools, compared to other OECD countries, is a disgrace.

“Government programmes announced as the solution in the past have yet to reduce the number of New Zealand students bullied in our schools. We are still amongst the worst in the developed world and we need to do something about that now.

“Until there is a visible reduction in our bullying rates, UN Human Rights bodies will continue to want to know why the introduction of anti-bullying programs, proven to work in New Zealand and overseas, have not been supported by the State.

“International human rights law requires the State to keep student’s safe in our schools. Our domestic law does too. However, the data shows we are failing to do that.

“In March next year, the Committee on Economic, Social and Culture Rights will review New Zealand’s performance on poverty, housing, health, education (including bullying in New Zealand schools).

“This will be the next UN reporting opportunity for New Zealanders concerned about children’s human rights and the Commission will be encouraging young people to make a submission and ensure we all continue to drive change for our Tamariki,” Mr Rutherford says.

You can read the UNCROC monitoring report here

13 November 2017

Press Release: Human Rights Commission

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10 NOVEMBER

USA

OASAS announces availability of funding to expand services, supports for youth and young adults in recovery from addiction

Up to $180,000 will be awarded to organizations for peer-driven services focused on ending stigma associated with addiction

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) today announced the availability of funding to establish or expand services for youth and young adults in recovery from addiction. Up to $180,000 is being made available through a series of mini-grants, which will be administered by the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene and OASAS.

Up to 15 projects will be awarded up to $12,000 each. This funding is part of the $25.2 million federal State Targeted Response Grant that New York received in early 2017.

"It is critical that we continue our efforts to reach young people affected by this devastating disease," OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. "This initiative will help ensure that youth and young adults have the support they need, and will give them a voice in their own recovery process. Thanks to Gov. Cuomo's leadership, we are continuing to make strides in preventing substance use disorders and expanding our important recovery services here in New York state."

The mini-grants will be specifically focused on establishing peer-driven services. These include alternative peer groups for youth and young adults, recovery supports and recovery community organizations looking to develop or enhance services, alumni support groups, and activities that promote recovery for youth and young adults in a targeted community.

The initiative is also designed to ensure these projects are youth-driven. Young people in recovery will have the opportunity to help determine how best to utilize this funding, and expand recovery supports and services based on the unique needs of their own communities.

The funding will be awarded through a request for applications, which OASAS is issuing today. It can be viewed here

9 November 2017 

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8 NOVEMBER

An Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines brightly

Barnardos welcomes the Government’s commitments to improving the situation of our children in Aotearoa New Zealand and says how these commitments are implemented will be crucial.

Today Barnardos published its Briefing to the Incoming Government, ‘An Aotearoa New Zealand every child shines bright | Nga Tamariki.’ The document outlines key priorities for children in Aotearoa New Zealand and details what will be essential for creating a New Zealand that champions all children’s rights and well-being.

The areas highlighted are child safety and well-being, ending child poverty, supporting our most vulnerable children, ensuring quality early childhood education for every child, and listening to and working with children.

Chief Executive Jeff Sanders says Barnardos was heartened to see children’s issues receiving strong attention from all political parties during the General Election campaign. Now it is keen to see follow-through and to partner with Government and other organisations to achieve lasting positive change for children.

“What we’ve made clear in our Briefing to the Incoming Government is that we welcome the commitments made to better addressing the needs and well-being of children in New Zealand. Many of the Government’s policy commitments aren’t going to be simple or quick to achieve, but will require concerted and considered attention.

“However, we are convinced that if Government follows through on its pledge to work closely with NGOs and other partners there’s a real potential to create long-term, sustainable change for children,” says Mr Sanders.

Barnardos is ready to bring ideas and insights from its work with and for children around the country, to help shape child-focused policies and to help implement these in ways that work for children.

“We’re also encouraging the new Government to implement processes to support children’s participation in the policy and legislative process, so that children can more directly shape the systems settings that will affect their lives,” says Mr Sanders.

6 November 2017

Press Release: Barnardos 

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6 NOVEMBER

Ontario: Former foster children team up to lobby politicians

A provincial child advocacy group, with strong roots in Simcoe County, launched at Queen’s Park last week, calling on the province to ensure foster care children do better when they age out of the system.

Jane Kovarikova, a Simcoe-Muskoka Family Connexions board member, speared headed the Child Welfare Political Action Committee.

 Kovarikova assembled a team of 13 former foster children who have found success despite the misgivings of the system that raised them.

“They all beat the odds. They didn’t make it because they were lucky,” she said. “They had to fight to be where they are today.”

Simcoe County warden Gerry Marshall is one of the members of the team, which includes lawyers, business people, journalists, therapists and academics.

The action committee’s goal is convince the province to fix a “broken” system so foster children have a brighter future when they age-out at 18.

Last year, Kovarikova, a PhD student at Western University, published a research paper on the foster care system that raised her since she was a six-year-old.

She found Ontario does not systematically track what happens to young people after they leave care, nor study the long-term impact of growing up in the system.

“If you do not study youth outcomes after care, then you cannot know if your policies or reforms are working.”

Available data reveals 10 to 30 per cent become homeless; 75 to 90 per cent draw government benefits and early pregnancy rates are double to quadruple.

Kovarikova said the Oct. 24 Queen’s Park launch allowed her group to get the ear of Michael Coteau, minister of children and youth services.

“We needed to create a public action group to get politicians to make this a priority,” she said. “The minister spoke at our reception and gave us a public commitment.”

Kovarikova said launching the nonprofit group with a provincial election around the corner is part of the game plan.

The action committee wants the province to document outcomes of foster wards and make recommendations to repair the system.

Kovarikova added the committee is looking for former foster children who want to share their stories.

By Rick Vanderlinde

3 November 2017 

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3 NOVEMBER

UNICEF: Violence against children pervasive in homes, schools and communities

About 300 million, or three-quarters, of the world’s two- to four-year-old children experience either psychological aggression or physical punishment, or both, by their caregivers at home, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a report published Tuesday.

“The harm inflicted on children around the world does tremendous damage,” said UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams in a press release on the report, titled 'A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents'.

“Babies slapped in the face; girls and boys forced into sexual acts; adolescents murdered in their communities – violence against children knows no boundaries,” he added.

The report uses the latest data to show that children experience violence across all stages of childhood and in all settings.

About 60 per cent of one-year-olds in 30 countries with available data are regularly subjected to violent discipline. Nearly a quarter of one-year-olds are physically shaken as punishment and nearly one in 10 are hit or slapped on the face, head or ears.

Worldwide, 176 million, or one in four, children under age five are living with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence.

The report also finds that around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts in their lifetime. Only one per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual violence said they reached out for professional help. In the 28 countries with data, 90 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced forced sex, on average, said the perpetrator of the first incident was known to them.

Data from six countries reveals friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of sexual violence against adolescent boys.

Globally, every seven minutes, an adolescent is killed by an act of violence. In the United States, adolescent boys from African American or black non-Hispanic populations are almost 19 times more likely to be murdered than non-Hispanic white adolescent boys.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region where adolescent homicide rates have increased; nearly half of all homicides among adolescents globally occurred in this region in 2015.

The report also says that half the population of school-age children – 732 million – live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited. Three-quarters of documented school shootings that have taken place over the past 25 years in non-conflict countries occurred in the United States.

To end violence against children, UNICEF is calling for governments to take urgent action and support such measures as adopting well-coordinated national action plans; changing adult behaviours; limiting access to firearms and other weapons; educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognize violence in all its many forms and report it safely; and collecting better disaggregated data to track progress through robust monitoring and evaluation.

2 November 2017

Press Release: United Nations 

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1 NOVEMBER

World Health Organization releases new tools and guidelines on violence and abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released two new tools addressing global violence prevention and child sexual abuse.

Global violence information

WHO has released an interactive website on violence prevention, Violence Info. It provides global and country specific information about child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner violence, elder abuse, sexual violence and homicide. For each topic it provides easy to understand infographics and links to research studies on prevalence, consequences, risk factors and prevention and response strategies. It also includes example response programmes and overviews of measurement tools. Under the studies section, it provides visual displays and links to research studies (including on violence against women).

There are country-specific profiles on laws, policies, strategies, programmes and services to prevent and respond to violence.

Clinical guidelines on childhood sexual abuse

WHO has also published new clinical guidelines for healthcare providers on responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused. The guidelines are focused primarily on frontline healthcare providers such as general practitioners, nurses, paediatricians and gynaecologists who provide care to children and adolescents. They are designed with low- and middle- income countries in mind, so recommendations can be applied with limited healthcare resources. The document also identifies areas where there are gaps in knowledge and need for research including prevalence, longer-term impacts, understanding a range of service needs (based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or socioeconomic status) and more. For more information see the WHO media release and the WHO webpage on sexual and reproductive health.
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