Council of Europe child-friendly materials on the Lanzarote Convention

The Centre for Children’s rights is hosting an event to mark ‘International Children’s Day’, on 20th November, 2015. During this event a new video and accompanying booklet about child sexual exploitation and abuse, “Tell someone you trust”, will be shown.  Researchers from the Centre, in collaboration with a group of young people, and a group of children aged 9 -13 years, worked together to produce these child-friendly materials on behalf of the Council of Europe.  The video explains what sexual abuse and exploitation are and how the Council of Europe is working to protect children’s rights through the Lanzarote Convention.   The video can be accessed here

The Council of Europe launched the materials on ‘The European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse’, 18th November, 2015.  They will be used to educate children across the 47 countries of the Council of Europe in schools and through the work of other major national and international agencies working to prevent sexual abuse such as Interpol.  Regina Jensdottir, Director of the Children’s Rights Unit in the Council of Europe has commended the collaboration with Queen’s and said:  “When I introduce the video, I am particularly proud to say that it has been made for children by children”.  Professor Laura Lundy who led the project said:  “Our experience at the Centre for Children’s tells us that, in order to produce ‘child-friendly’ material, we need to involve children in authorship. Sexual abuse and exploitation is a sensitive topic and the Lanzarote Convention is a detailed legal document. That made it even more important to take children’s advice on how to explain these issues to other children in ways that are appropriate, accurate and engaging.'  Researcher on the project Michelle Templeton said: “This project is an excellent example of participation that demonstrates how adults, young people and children can all work together to share relevant information in a way that may help improve children’s lives.”  For further information please contact: Prof Laura Lundy

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Centre research informs new Children’s Bill

Research conducted by Dr Bronagh Byrne and Professor Laura Lundy for the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People on barriers to government delivery for children  has contributed to the development of new legislation for children, including a new statutory obligation  on children’s services to co-operate when making provision  for children.  The legislation was introduced as a private member’s bill by Steven Agnew of the Green Party and received cross-party support. Speaking at the Assembly debate when the  Bill was adopted, Chris Lyttle said: ‘There have been problems related to the coordination of the planning, commissioning and delivering of children's services. The Bill will make a significant contribution towards addressing those, and to the development and implementation of strong policy and legislation for children and young people. The centre for children's rights at Queen's University and the Children's Commissioner conducted work to investigate barriers to effective government delivery for children. They identified the need for stronger working together and joined-up government in relation to those issues.”   Dr Byrne and Professor Lundy, along with  Dr Lisa Maguire, have recently conducted a follow-up study for NICCY looking at ways in which the statutory duty to co-operate might work most effectively in practice. This will be used by the Children’s Unit in OFMDFM to provide guidance to public bodies  when the legislation comes into operation.

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Investing in children at a time of austerity: developments in children’s budgeting conference

Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Karen Orr recently (October, 2015) presented at the ‘Investing in children at a time of austerity: developments in children’s budgeting’ conference, organised by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY).   The conference was attended by a range of government departments and NGO representatives.  The conference focussed on the topic of children’s budgeting, in light of the Northern Ireland alternative report submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which identified the impact of austerity on children’s services and family income.  Laura and Karen presented on the new draft UNCRC General Comment on ‘Public spending and the rights of the child’.  This General Comment was informed by the report ‘Towards better investment in the rights of the child: the views of children’, authored by Laura Lundy, Karen Orr and Chelsea Marshall (further information on this study/ report can be found here).  The General Comment is open for consultation until December 2015.

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Reporting on Best Practice in Cross-departmental Working Practices for Children and Young People

The Centre for Children’s Rights is delighted to announce the launch of the report 'Reporting on Best Practice in Cross-departmental Working Practices for Children and Young People'. The report is the result of a project undertaken by Dr Bronagh Byrne, Dr Lisa Maguire and Professor Laura Lundy and was commissioned by NICCY earlier this year.  The research explored the views and experiences of joint working across agencies and departments involved in services for children and young people across the UK. The work is intended to inform and support ongoing initiatives to further develop and embed joined up working in Northern Ireland, particularly through the current Children’s Services Co-operation Bill which is making its way through the Northern Ireland Assembly.  The evidence highlighted in the report suggests that a statutory requirement to co-operate is important in enabling the benefits to be accrued from joint working to become encompassing of more children and young people. However, for joint working to be developed and adopted effectively via a legislative duty, a ‘supportive architecture’ needs to put in place including: a clear mandate and leadership; a  shared vision and a sense of shared ownership; systematic training and guidance on the adopted legislation and its implications for policy, service delivery and practice; clear and effective communication structures; clarity on the kinds of information/data that need to be collected to allow effective monitoring to take place; a common means of information sharing; the development of a concise reporting template; clearly defined monitoring and accountability lines; and outcomes based monitoring.  You can read the report here

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Third Annual Children’s Rights Symposium in Antwerp

On 14th-15th October, Professor Laura Lundy and Michelle Templeton (PhD Student) from the Centre for Children’s Rights attended the ‘3rd Children's Rights Research Symposium’ hosted by the University of Antwerp, Belgium. The general focus of the symposium was on methodology given the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research being undertaken on children’s rights, and the complex methodological questions researchers face in this interdisciplinary environment. The symposium commenced with a plenary session featuring a Keynote Conversation on the proposal for an interdisciplinary “Children’s Rights Studies” field by Professor Karl Hanson (University of Geneva), Professor Laura Lundy and Professor Karin Arts (International Institute of Social Sciences). Laura and Michelle also attended a working session on ‘Participatory research with vulnerable children’, chaired by Professor Natalia Fernandes (University of Minho). During this session, Michelle presented a paper entitled ‘Working with young people to address ethical issues in sexual health research’. Discussions centered on the broader challenges facing those conducting research into children’s rights and opportunities for a better understanding of child participation through the research process. The symposium was very well attended by PhD students and their supervisors. This provided a supportive space for students to discuss their work on children’s rights and the methodological issues they face, with more experienced researchers from various European universities.‌


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Children’s Rights at Queen’s (CRAQ) meet with Deputy Director of ‘Street Law’

Judy Zimmer, Deputy Director of Street Law, a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., visited the Centre for Children’s Rights at the beginning of December. Judy has extensive experience of developing classroom and community programs to teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. While visiting the Centre, Judy met with doctoral students from CRAQ (Children’s Rights at Queen’s). CRAQ is a student -led initiative in the Centre which is developing a programme to train Queen’s University students to deliver school-based sessions in primary and secondary schools to raise children’s awareness and understanding of children's rights. Judy offered invaluable support and advice to CRAQ, and her visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all members.  

For more information on CRAQ e-mail  Rhian Barrance

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Report on the rights of children in care launched by Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have released a research report which examines the rights of children in care in Northern Ireland. The research was conducted by Centre for Children's Rights members Dr. Karen Winter and Dr. Bronagh Byrne (School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work) and Dr. Katrina Lloyd (School of Education). The report highlights that there are currently more ‘looked after children’ in Northern Ireland than at any time since the Children Order came into effect and that the numbers of child protection and children in need referrals are on an upward curve.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby stated:  “In 2015 we are even more aware how very vulnerable children in care are, children who for whatever reason cannot live with their families, must be offered the highest level of human rights protection. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires the best interests of the child to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies.

At the time compiling this report there were over 2,800 looked after children in Northern Ireland, almost one fifth of these children had been in the system for 5-10 years. Our research identifies on-going difficulties with the current system and indicates that reforms are required in a number of areas. Our aim is for improvements be made without delay as it is essential that our laws and practices protect children’s human rights at every step of their journey through the care system.”

The report identifies a number of areas for improvement, including: the practice of moving children; delay in adoption process; the right of the child to be heard and taken seriously; concerns over criminalisation of young people in residential care.

The report can be accessed here

A BBC news item about the research can be found here 

For more information contact

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Centre for Children’s Rights supports NGO reports to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

The Centre for Children's Rights has been delighted to support the Children's Law Centre and Save the Children (NI),in their preparation of a NI Young People's Report and a NI Non-Governmental Organisations  Alternative Report to inform the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's examination of the United Kingdom's compliance with its obligations under the UNCRC (scheduled to take place in 2016).  The NI NGO Alternative Report represents the views of a wide range of children and young people, NGOs and adults, and was prepared through a series of consultation workshops. Youth@clc, the Children's Law Centre's youth advisory group, developed the NI Young People's Report, which involved an online survey of the views of a wide range of children in relation to their rights and a series of research workshops carried out with a wide range of children and young people. 

For more information on the reports see here

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Centre for Children’s Rights members attend children’s rights events in Dubli

On Wednesday 17th June, Professor Laura Lundy and Dr Karen Orr from the Centre for Children’s Rights attended the launch of the Irish National Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Dublin.  The strategy, the first of its kind in Europe, aims to ensure that children and young people have a voice in decisions made about their lives.  Laura Lundy presented on her model of participation (Lundy, 2007), which is underpins the strategy.  The event was attended by a range of academics, practitioners, and policy makers.  Laura and Karen also attended the ‘Making Rights a Reality: How the post-2015 Framework will help shape Children’s Rights’ conference, held in Dublin on the 18th June.  Laura was a panellist during this event discussing opportunities for better investment in children’s rights and better child participation. 

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Doctoral Students Engaging with Schools and Children on Children’s Rights

Children’s Rights at Queen’s (CRAQ) is a new initiative in the Centre for Children’s Rights which is led by doctoral students at the Schools of Education, English and Law and funded by the Centre and the Graduate School. Queen’s University students involved in CRAQ are trained to deliver sessions on children’s rights in schools across Northern Ireland.

CRAQ’s core aim is to empower children by developing their understanding of their rights.  It also aims to contribute to the development of a culture of children’s rights in Northern Ireland by training Queen’s University students, the future professionals of Northern Ireland, to deliver these sessions. As well as giving students the opportunity to develop transferable skills which will improve their employability, CRAQ equips them with the knowledge and understanding of children’s rights to make decisions in the best interests of young people in their future careers.

The CRAQ committee developed the activities for the sessions in collaboration with a group of children and young people from a primary and a secondary school to ensure that the materials were child-friendly. They also worked with Centre members who gave them advice on children’s rights and pedagogical methods.

To date CRAQ has visited four schools in Northern Ireland, with more planned for this year. The programme has also attracted the attention of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, who invited committee members to a meeting to hear more about their work.

For more information contact Rhian Barrance

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Visiting Research Fellow joins Centre for Children's Rights

The Centre is delighted to be hosting Alison Kearney as a visiting scholar for the next month. Alison is an Associate Professor at Massey University in New Zealand and was the head of the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy from 2009 to 2013. She began her career as a primary school teacher and also spent time working in special education. Her teaching and research interests include inclusion and exclusion, children’s rights and inter professional practice. Alison has served on numerous Ministry of Education advisory groups and been involved in national policy evaluations.

Alison will be giving a semianr based on some of her work on Friday 22nd May - details here

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New report by the Centre for Children's Rights on Children's Rights Education in 26 Countries

UNICEF has recently published the findings from a research project undertaken by the Centre for Children’s Rights examining the implementation of Children’s Rights Education (CRE) across 26 countries. On 30th April 2015 Lee Jerome presented the findings in Geneva to members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, representatives from twelve country missions to the Committee and a cross-section of UN and NGO staff. The research found that only 11 of 26 countries had some form of CRE in their curriculum for all children, and that only 3 monitored this provision routinely. Despite the gaps in provision overall we conducted several case studies of good practice which informed the construction of CRE Benchmarking Statements to guide states and other stakeholders in reviewing and developing their CRE provision. The report can be found here 

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Centre members present at American Educational Research Association Conference

On 18th April Lesley Emerson and Katrina Lloyd presented a paper at the American Educational Research Association Conference in Chicago. Lesley outlined the approach taken to working with a group of 10 and 11 year old children as co-researchers to develop a measure of the extent to which children feel their participation rights are respected in school and in their community. The questions developed with the children were piloted in the Kid’s Life and Times survey, the results of which the children then analysed and interpreted. Katrina outlined the psychometric properties of the measure. The discussant for the session in which the paper was presented commended the unique approach taken to working with children as co-researchers in survey development.

More information on the project, funded by the Improving Children’s Lives initiative, can be found here. For more information about the Centre’s work with children as co-researchers contact Lesley Emerson

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Towards better investment in the rights of the child: The views of children

As previously reported, the Centre for Children's Rights has been supporting a group of international NGOs to conduct a global consultation with children and young people on the topic of public expenditure for children's rights.  This consultation has captured the views of almost 2,700 children from over 70 different countries across the globe.  The final report, authored by Professor Laura Lundy, Dr Karen Orr, and Dr Chelsea Marshall has now been completed and has been sent to the UN to support the Human Rights Council’s Annual Day of Discussion on the Rights of the child in 2015. The report will also support the development of the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s upcoming General Comment on Public Expenditure.

You can visit the Child Rights Connect website here

You can click here for the report

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Dr Bronagh Byrne invited speaker at ROCK event on UNCRC incorporation

Dr Bronagh Byrne participated in an event organised by the Rights of the Child UK Coalition (ROCK) which was held in London on 3rd February. The aim of the event was to review the progress, set out challenges and learn lessons from across the UK in incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law. Discussion took place on: incorporation progress across the UK, with perspectives from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England; the challenges to incorporation; and models and arguments around incorporating economic, social and cultural rights. Dr Bronagh Byrne and Alex Tennant from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People jointly presented on recent projects which identified barriers to effective government delivery for children and young people in NI as well as a recently completed ESRC project which sets out options for the legal implementation of the UNCRC in NI. Later in the day, Dr Byrne presented findings from research carried out on behalf of UNICEF with Professor Laura Lundy and Professor Urusla Kilkelly on what we can learn from other countries internationally about legal implementation of the UNCRC. Other speakers included Professor Van Bueren QC, University of London; Baroness Joan Walmsley, House of Lords; Professor Aoife Nolan, Nottingham University; Dr Simon Hoffman, Wales Observatory on the Human Rights of Children and Young People; Paula Uccellari   Child Rights Alliance for England; Jamie Burton, Doughty Street Chambers; Juliet Harris, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) and Sanchita Hosali   British Institute for Human Rights.

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