This year’s World Children’s Day marks 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Convention which has helped to transform the lives of children all over the world.
The convention sets out rights for children, including:
- A right to be protected from violence. Governments must protect children from violence, abuse and being neglected by anyone who looks after them.
- A right not to be separated from their parents, unless they are not being properly looked after.
- A right to be looked after by people who respect their religion, culture, language and other aspects of their life when they cannot be looked after by their own family.
- A right for their situation to be checked regularly if they have been placed somewhere away from home (for their care, protection or health).
I am a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel. I regularly represent parents in care proceedings, when the Local Authority intervenes because they have concerns that a child is at risk of harm in the care of their parents. I also represent the children subject to the proceedings with the Children’s Guardian, who is appointed by the Court and independent from the other parties in the proceedings. The Guardian’s role is to safeguard the child’s interests.
The Children Act 1989 applies in care proceedings. At the very beginning of the Act, it sets out:
(1)When a court determines any question with respect to—
(a)the upbringing of a child; or
(b)the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,
the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.
Over the past 30 years, there has been more than a 50% reduction in deaths of children, 2.6 billion more people have cleaner drinking water and the proportion of undernourished children has almost halved.
But there is so much more that still needs to be done. To UNICEF, World Children’s Day is an annual day of action. On 20th November, children will get involved in the media, politics, business and sport, they will sit in roles normally held by adults and use the opportunity to highlight issues that matter to them. Around the world, buildings will be lit up blue, school children will wear blue and classrooms will be decorated blue to show support.
This year at Crane and Staples, we are supporting East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity and are ‘gifting a smile’ to the children who will be admitted to hospital over Christmas, by donating gifts which can be distributed to the children over the festive period. We hope that this makes what can be a frightening and difficult time a little bit better.