The human rights magazine by and for children and young people
The Right Stuff Children seeking asylum in the UK – their stories told
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights ARTICLE 1, UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 1948
– see page 4
– see pages 24-25
World tour of children’s rights
r e t s a T issue
– see pages 28-29
S ER N IG PA AM C G N U YO • E AR C IN E C N IE MY EXPER SPECIAL UNDER 10s SECTION
Alice on human rights fashion
A day with Zaki
n o ti c a g in k ta le p o e Young p
The Right Stuff
Who’s behind The Right Stuff? This taster issue of The Right Stuff human rights magazine was planned and written by young people (aged 13 to 18 years) and funded by Mediabox. A management team of 10 young people from all over England made sure the project ran smoothly, and made decisions about the budget and launch event. More than 20 other young people contributed by creating content; drawing illustrations; taking photographs; and working with the design company Social Spider. Ongoing support was offered by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) is a large group of organisations and individuals in England that tries to get the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child put into practice everywhere. Every year we publish a ‘State of children’s rights in England’ report. We also send reports to the UN and other important bodies concerned with human rights. We work with the Government and with Parliamentarians to encourage them to make laws and policies that are in line with children’s human rights. We try to stop laws and policies that go against children’s human rights. We speak out for children’s human rights in the media, and run events for children and young people across the country. We also give legal advice on human rights and equality laws – see back page. We’re always looking for children and young people who care about children’s human rights to campaign with us. If you are under 18, it’s free to join CRAE. Find out more from: www.crae.org.uk.
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) retains sole copyright for the creative contributions in this magazine. All rights reserved. No content from this publication can be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of CRAE.
Contributors Design and content team Alex ChownAhern Alice Dowek Alice Putt Dhevine Chandrapala Hayley Carr Heather Wignall Imogen Schön Joel Beeton Linda Epstein Mohanish Maroo Phillip Park Radha Bhatt Rebecca Short Rhasan Brunner Sam ChownAhern Sarah CooperLesadd Shobana Sivalingam Zaki Woodbridge Management team Andrew Gallacher Bryony Shuter Chris Bridgwood Dom King Jack Green Jessica Timperley Kiran Iqbal Rory Murray Shehryar Mirza Tom Roberts Zoë Triston
We would also like to thank the following children and young people who contributed to the magazine: Aakash Bharania Ajeendiny Vasanthakumar Amritha Sathananthan Arvind Singh Saund Avnish Chana Chris O’Boyle Billal Iqbal George Lane Billie Norris Emily Clarke Ethan Marriott Harpreet Kaur Gehdu Jack Norris Jamal Muse Kasia Adamowicz Krishika Sharma Laxman Manivanannan Lonia Jefimovs LoriAnn Whipps Mariyam Iqbal Rishan Sivakumar Rosalind Hardy Siham Said Sekander Matharu Hasniha Thanganathan Tara Suman Tasha Xavier We would also like to thank Durdan’s Park Primary School.
Adult mentors Krishna Maroo, Carla Garnelas, Carolyne Willow, Sue Marris – Children’s Rights Alliance for England • Anant Naik – Roehampton University Students’ Union • Denise Malcolm – Office of the Children’s Commissioner • Grace Over – Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames • Martin Parker – Social Spider • Umi Nur – Youthled Media Network • Mary Riddell – Chair of CRAE Council of Management, Columnist at the Daily Telegraph.
Mediabox enables young people to create media projects and get their voices heard. It has given disadvantaged 13–19 year olds, and up to 25 if they have learning difficulties or disabilities, living in England the opportunity to create media projects about issues that matter to them, from film and journalism to digital media and campaigns. Mediabox is delivered by a consortium led by First Light and Media Trust in partnership with Skillset and the UK Film Council. Over 17,000 young people have benefited from the scheme since it was launched in 2006.
Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of CRAE or Mediabox and their constituent organisations.
© 2010 Children’s Rights Alliance for England CRAE, 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF T: 0207 278 8222 E: email@example.com W: www.crae.org.uk Charity number 1005135
uman rights are a set of basic things every human being should have – like the right to be free; the right to say what you think; protection from poverty; and the right to be treated with respect. We think these are really important to every human being, including children, and that’s why we’ve made this magazine.
We hope that young people will become more informed and involved in children’s rights campaigning as a result of reading this magazine. We want you to make change happen locally, nationally and internationally – in your own lives, your wider community and society. Get involved in local and national projects, and join our community through our Facebook page. Please take the time to complete the survey at the back of the magazine. We want as much feedback as possible to help us make the case for a permanent human rights magazine. Let us know what you think, and don’t hold back! Pass the magazine to your friends, family and any other young people you know and even your pets (the clever ones!). Post a link to the electronic version of the magazine on your Facebook and Twitter pages, print a copy and put it in your school or college library. We want loads of people to read The Right Stuff so that children’s rights are respected as much as they You can should be. Are you with us? The Rig read ht Stuff Happy reading! The Right Stuff team
inside University fees Pages 8-9 s on Find u ok by o Faceb ing for searchght Stuff i ‘The Ran rights hum azine’ mag
onlin www.cr e at ae.org.u k
Taking action on children’s rights locally Page 5
Real life stories about children in care Page 14 Human rights defenders Pages 20-21
Rights advice Back Cover
The Right Stuff editorial and management teams at work
Human rights matter to every one of us. They set out what is fair and decent. They protect us from poverty, discrimination, cruelty and violence. They ensure we are heard, respected and included. They give us freedom and choices. But human rights have to be defended and protected. In supporting this magazine, CRAE hopes many more young people will become informed, active and successful campaigners for children’s human rights. We’re right behind you. Carolyne Willow, national coordinator, CRAE 3
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What are children’s human rights and why are they so important?
uman rights are a set of rules agreed by governments. They say how people in a country can expect to be treated. Human rights cover all areas of life and all people. Their aim is to make sure that all human beings are treated with dignity, respect and freedom and have respect and understanding for others. The United Nations (UN) is the main body that looks after human rights. It was set up after the Second World War (1939– 1945), during which six million Jewish people and up to four million Roma, trade unionists, communists, disabled people and gay men were killed in Nazi concentration camps. After the War, members of the UN wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to make it absolutely clear what every person needs to have a full and dignified life. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to life, freedom from discrimination, the right to an adequate standard of living and protection from torture and cruel treatment. There are other important human rights treaties for people who need extra protection from unfair treatment – such as
disabled people, women and girls, refugees and for people who are treated badly because of their race. All these other treaties apply to children and young people. There is a special treaty called the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This treaty sets out what governments must do to make sure children and young people everywhere have the best possible life. The UNCRC was agreed by the UN in 1989. It gives children and young people all over the world over 40 major rights. These rights include the right to family life; to be protected from all types of violence; to have a say and be respected; to be healthy; and to have an education that helps you grow fully as a person. These rights apply to every child. The UNCRC also gives extra rights to children and young people living in very difficult circumstances – such as children who have been arrested by the police or refugee and asylum seeking children. The UK Government signed the UNCRC in 1991. This means that it agreed to always follow the Convention when making decisions that affect children and young people. Not many people in England know that there is an international
Find out more about children’s rights and the UNCRC on CRAE’s website: www.crae.org.uk/rights/uncrc.html Read the full version of the UNCRC here: www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm 4
treaty that gives children and young people their own rights. There are also many children and young people living in England who do not have their rights properly respected and protected. We hope The Right Stuff will help spread the word about children’s human rights! l Words by The Right Stuff team
All of the articles in The Right Stuff are about children’s rights. You can read a summary of the UNCRC on pages 16 and 17.
Children’s rights: the basics
1. Everyone has human rights. 2. The UN has agreed a human rights treaty to give every child and young person the best possible childhood. 3. There are many children and young people in England that do not have their rights properly protected.
Taking action on children’s rights locally There are lots of projects for young people to get involved locally to campaign for children’s rights. A member of The Right Stuff team talks about her experiences as a member of the Rochdale Children’s Council.
y name is Kiran and I’m 13 years old. I am a member of the Children’s Council for Rochdale and my role is to help carry out decisions in the borough that affect children and young people. Some of the jobs that I am involved in are: creating and carrying out surveys; helping to make decisions; creating and designing our newsletter to send out to children all over the borough; and updating our notice board every month to inform children about different topics like smoking, alcohol etc.
Children and young people’s voices are important and their opinions do matter.
I personally believe that children and young people should have a voice locally, regionally and nationally as it is important that we have our say especially in matters that affect us. We are the next generation and the ones who know what we want.
Children and young people’s voices are important and our opinions do matter. There are organisations like CRAE, for example, that involve children and young people in everything they do. Our local Children’s Council involves all children and young people who want to make a difference to their lives and community. Our Council is made up of only children and young people and we take decisions and discuss things that matter to us. One of the biggest things that I remember doing was looking at the development plans for the town and we selected things that we would like to see happen and the things that we want. I hope that the Council will carry on the work that we do for years and generations to come. What we do is important for everyone. One thing that I would like to see is that the Council gets more funding and we carry on the work that we do and we can even expand it as time goes by. l Words by Kiran Illustration by Sam 5
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£ Aakash on
met Aakash in my Economics class at college. He was loud, annoying and the centre of attention. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would be friends with him at first but, hey, I was new at the college and needed all the friends I could get.
We got chatting and he told me he was campaigning to increase the minimum wage for 16 year olds so it’s the same as 21 year olds. I tried to keep talking about football but he wasn’t having any of it. I eventually gave in and listened to what he had to say. Aakash is 16 years old and is on a mission. He wants people the same age as many of us to get paid the same minimum wage as 21 yearolds. At the moment, 21 yearolds get paid £2.23 more than 16 yearolds – often for doing exactly the same job. This blatant discrimination against children is based on their age, not their ability. No disrespect to 21 yearolds, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the 21 yearold is more skilled than the 16 yearold. Aakash’s campaign is called ‘Same Job Same Dosh’ and its aim is for the minimum wage for 16 yearolds to be the same as that of 21 yearolds. He campaigns through Facebook, Twitter and an online campaigning platform for young people called Battlefront. He recently developed a set of standards for businesses to follow 6
This blatant discrimination against children is based on their age, not their ability.
to show they are supporting equality for 16 yearolds. Once they have started to follow this standard, Same Job Same Dosh will issue them a seal of approval to show they pay 16 yearolds fairly. Aakash is encouraging big businesses and shops to take on board the standard, and hopes to see it alongside other standards such as Fairtrade. He knows that the Government rules and policies around this issue may not change, but says that ‘the aim is to make paying fairly more fashionable’. Through his campaign he has met politicians such as Nick Clegg and musicians like Ellie Goulding and Professor Green. He started his campaign only last summer and believes that if you have a passion to change something then you should follow it and try
your best to achieve your goals. He goes on to say that it is hard for him to balance school work with the demands of his campaign, but believes that good time management is the key. Aakash’s best investment to date has been a diary! Aakash thinks that creating online content such as videos on YouTube is really useful when trying to bring the campaign to life and gain more followers and supporters. He has a flip camera and lots of ideas to make sure he can do this. I have learnt that Aakash is still loud and the centre of attention but he is on a mission. He has a purpose: to inform people and businesses to change the minimum wage for 16 yearolds to the same as that of 21 yearolds. He hopes to increase his campaign further and would like to raise greater awareness of his campaign to make it even more successful. I’m with him. Are you? l Words by Mohanish Image provided by Battlefront
NFind out more here:
music ‘Music has the power to cross borders, to break military sieges and to establish real dialogue’
– Zack de la Rocha, Rage Against the Machine
Harry’s army P needs YOU
ometimes fantasy can affect reality. Living proof of this is the Harry Potter Alliance, an organisation that uses events and characters from the Harry Potter books to inspire and empower young people to work towards a better world. Dumbledore’s Army wanted to stand up to the Government’s cruel rules and power over Hogwarts and Hermione set up the Society for the Protection of Elfish Welfare (SPEW) to stop slavery. The Harry Potter Alliance has a 100,000 strong community of supporters who have raised enough money through live Harry Potter podcasts to
send five cargo planes of medical supplies to Haiti. They have also recently launched a Deathly Hallows campaign, aiming to hunt down the seven Horcruxes of our world including economic injustice, inequality and illiteracy. So why not make something of your love for the Harry Potter books and become a member? In the wise words of Dumbledore: ‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided’. l Words by Shobana Illustration by Sam
NFind out more here:
rotest music was once a huge force for change alongside things such as the civil rights, antiwar and feminist movements. Nowadays protest music is limited. We spoke to Derek Meins from The Agitator, a band that is kickstarting the new generation of protest music. Meins feels it is ‘necessary to show young people that taking an interest in the world around us and fighting for a better future is not ‘uncool’ but is important’. He believes there has been a ‘sea change in the attitudes of young people’ in that they have ‘shown politicians and government that they are not willing to be taken advantage of any longer’. A key note of expressing this is by young people ‘making music that channels that anger’. Music is an easy and exciting way for all of us young people to think and talk about our society. People come and go, but music stands the test of time. l Words by Phillip Read the full interview at The Right Stuff Facebook page.
Music that stands out FOR CHANGE: Bob Marley – Get up stand up Bob Dylan – The times they are achangin’ Phil Ochs – I ain’t marching anymore The Agitator – Get ready 7
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University fee young One of the major issues facing the people today is the abolition of ce and Education Maintenance Allowan of the tripling of university fees. As ersity 2012, students could leave univ ore. So with a total debt of £30,000 or m for the what do these increases mean rights of us young people?
he argument against these fees is that the prospect of massive debt will stop young people from poorer families applying to top universities. The Government insists that the new system will be fair but has failed to convince the public that this is true. It is hard for many to see how this new system can be justified in a country which prides itself on the belief of equality for all, and access to the highest standard of education. There has been a massive reaction from young people arguing ‘no’. Thousands have and continue to gather across the country to protest against the increase. But what has been the response to young protestors? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child supports young people’s right to protest, stating all young people have the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression. However, many young people have had difficulty in carrying out these civil liberties. An example of this has been police “kettling” young people. This is where police control a large crowd of protestors by sectioning them off in an area for hours at a time. Kettling is a tactic facing much controversy. Surely it goes against young people’s rights to allow young people the freedom to protest and then punish them for doing so? Kettling sends the message that protestors are ‘guilty until proven innocent’. A problem with this is that some young people have been put off from protesting forever. But we should never give up. Cassie, a 15 year old from north London, said ‘I was there for hours, freezing and starving; I was let out slightly earlier because I 8
was wearing uniform’. No food, no toilets, no warmth, is a story repeated by many young people, as young as 14, and indicates the careless and irresponsible police behaviour towards the protestors. Scotland Yard insists that kettling is necessary to control violent sections of the crowd; to protect the streets of London. But this has led to shocking allegations of police violence, including the case of London student Alfie Meadows who suffered a brain injury after allegedly being hit by a police truncheon. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating. Why did this
With the student protests there were two main splinters: the young people in further education who would be the actual victims of the cuts and those leaving university, who appreciate how valuable their education is. It showed how collective young people are and that we were the ones who are really all in this together.
young people questioning those in power who might be hindering their futures, disregarding their potential and silencing their Anant Naik from Roehampton voices. Young people should be University Student’s Union active citizens who are seen, respected and, most importantly, struggle to make headlines at all? listened to by those in power Why is it that the minority of through creative, peaceful violent protestors were such a protest. This will be an important focus for the mainstream media? milestone for our generation of Despite Parliament voting to young people: we have certainly increase the fees, despite tactics ridded ourselves of the label like kettling and despite shocking ‘apathetic’. l allegations of police violence, students still plan in their Words by Phillip thousands to continue the fight Image by Chris O for an accessible education. Recent protests have shown
There have been other forms of protest. At Camden School for Girls, around 70 young people stayed overnight in their school to express concerns over the increased fees. Sophie, a sixth form student at the school, said the Government’s plan will create a more ‘divisive’ society. Her teachers had come to be very supportive of their occupation and Sophie was ‘very happy’ with the media coverage they gained. This shows a positive sign of young people being listened to.
Civil liberties Basic freedoms that protect individuals from the state. They include the right to life; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of speech; the right to a fair trial; and the right to privacy. Education Maintenance Allowance A weekly sum of money given by the Government to less wealthy young people so they can afford things such as books and transport for school. 9
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u n g o , d Y g n i t t e g d an nd town arou
ee disabled Zaki, Rosalind and Alice are thr re they young people from Kingston. He when trying show the challenges they face tre. to get around a busy town cen ed: Some of the challenges Zaki fac er. • Too many lifts were out of ord to stare. • Lots of people think its okay • Uneven pavements. • Narrow aisles in shops. Some of the good things: • Helpful people in shops. • Cash points and ticket machines at lower levels. • Working lifts!! by Some of the challenges faced Alice and Rosalind: bad • Phobia of balloons – they are for the environment too! t alone. • Not being allowed to go ou d Alice
Words by Zaki, Rosalind an Images by Sam
l b ed a dis
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Meeting Maggie Maggie Atkinson is the Childre n’s Commissioner for England. Her job is to make sure that the views of children and young pe ople are asked for, listened to and acted on. Th e Right Stuff met Maggie to talk about children’s rights, education and taking action.
hen Maggie was at school, her teacher suggested studying history at Cambridge University. She initially laughed because she thought she wouldn’t get in. She was from an ordinary background and her dad was a bricklayer at the pit. She studied hard, went to Cambridge, trained to be a teacher and spent ‘12 really fantastic years teaching’. She was the sort of teacher ‘who didn’t just tell children and young people what to do ... because I considered they had opinions, and they had a right to voice them’. Maggie had been working in the role of Director of Children’s Services in Gateshead when she met the previous Children’s Commissioner, Professor Sir Al AynsleyGreen. She was instantly attracted to the job and the possible changes it could bring to the lives of children: ‘I know that he and the staff that he gathered round him were really passionate about helping children to say what needed to be said to people in power’. So as the end of Sir Al’s term was nearing, she started to look for the advert. Maggie got the job and has been in post since early 2010. 12
Soon after the coalition Government came into power, it announced a review of lots of organisations who receive Government funding; this included the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. John Dunford, the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders was asked to carry out a review of the Office. He spoke to lots of adults, charitable organisations (including CRAE) and children about how the role could be improved and made stronger. Maggie says: ‘CRAE was the alliance that fought harder than anybody else to have a
Commissioner in the first place ... the strength of CRAE’s opinions really did make John Dunford sit back and have a think. The country has to wake up to the United Nations Convention’. The review recommended that the role is made much stronger and more focused on the rights of children. Maggie hopes the review will mean that ‘instead of sometimes being invited to give their opinions so that somebody can tick a box … they’re asked properly’. I asked the Children’s Commissioner what one thing would change children’s lives
Directors of Children’s Services ponsible for all the Directors of Children’s Services are res ir local area. They services provided for children in the (including children look after education, social services vices. They work leaving care) and leisure and youth ser s to make sure with the heads of these department sible life. children are safe and have the best pos
The country has to wake up to the United Nations Convention.
Maggie on specific issues Bullying ‘Children talk to me about bullying wherever I go’. There are ‘no new, big, bright, wonderful, makeitall stop ideas’. Maggie says we need to create an atmosphere where it’s expected that you tell someone about being bullied. ‘If you are a bully, it’s alright that you ask for help … most bullies I’ve ever met, including the people who bullied me, were deeply troubled’. most. She took this opportunity to highlight her concerns that three million children in England live in poverty. She also emphasised the poor’s chances of success still do not compare with those of the rich. Her message was that ‘if we could bring the poorest up close to living a decent life, we would be a much more civilised country’. l Words by Zoë Image provided by The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England
NFind out more here:
Students as Citizens What does Maggie think schools can do to make sure all their students are active citizens? ‘The best scheme I’ve seen is the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools’. Maggie explains that this scheme is based on three Rs: Respect, Rights and Responsibility. She also says it’s important to recognise that children are citizens now: ‘Schools have to be brave enough to recognise that children are not waiting to be citizens. They’re citizens now, and it’s their school, as much as it’s the adults’. Protests and civil rights Maggie says the “kettling” (see pages 8–9) of school children for 8 or 9 hours during recent student protests was ‘not safe or civilized’. She recognises that the majority of people protested peacefully but she did not agree with the violent few. ‘There have to be ways of sorting out the younger people in the middle of a demonstration, so you don’t have to hold them for hours at a time’. 13
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Anon, 18 I
My life in care M
y name is LoriAnn. I’m 15 years old and live in a care home. I was put in care at the age of 11 and along the way it has seemed that every placement I had has broken down.
The first one broke down because I wasn’t happy and ran away. At the second one I got physically punished for bad behaviour. Then at the third placement my carer didn’t like my friends, so I stayed at my friend’s house as that was where I felt safe until she kicked me out. I have been to five 14
I prefer it here to the places I have been before, including home.
different foster homes which broke down for reasons that didn’t seem fair to me and I have now been to two children’s homes. I was sent to an assessment home to see whether foster care or children’s homes were best for my physical and mental needs. At my assessment home, they came to the conclusion that children’s homes were better for me. I have now been at this children’s home for
11 months. My life in care has been a rollercoaster ride, and I have made good friendships and bad ones along the way. People have walked in and out of my life and at times I’ve felt unsettled. I prefer it here to the places I have been before, including home. I have taken up interests such as iceskating and football. I work every Sunday at a local football club with younger children. I have had a tough time in care but I’ve used my personality to make sure that people get to know me as a person not just someone labelled as a “kid in care”. l Words by LoriAnn Illustration by Sam
have been in and out of care practically all my life. I know just about every peak and downfall there is. Whilst in foster care, I moved around a lot – in total I must have had about 26 different homes. Foster carers judged me on things that have happened to me in life. It still gets to me knowing that when you talk up about abuse you are often the one who gets judged for it. Growing up in care was made even harder by having noone to talk to about my sexuality. When I finally started to face it at 13, social services put me off coming out as they reacted badly to it. Don’t get me wrong, social services provided me with a warm bed and all the necessities. But they did not know how to deal with my emotional health. No one really understood. Peers, teachers and other professionals judged me as a troublemaker. I was bullied for my problems and not having everything everyone else had. But it made me a stronger person and I’m now a positive person. Never give up. l
NFind out more here: www.thewhocares trust.org.uk
the Ginger be ashamed about, Being ginger should not be something to from bullying so why are many ginger children suffering silly playground because of their hair colour? Is this just a Two proud joke or is it becoming a bigger problem? e a closer look... redheads from The Right Stuff team, tak
hildren and adults are called a wide variety of names including ginger nut, ginger minger, carrottop, copper, Duracell and many more derogatory names. I know it’s a bit of friendly banter and a bit of a laugh, but there are people who like to take it too far. After some research the Internet produced pictures of little ginger children having slogans ‘We are still searching for a cure!’ or ‘gingers have no souls’. A Tesco card was taken off the shelves because some found it too offensive. The card had the slogan ‘Santa loves all kids, even ginger ones’ and was quickly removed. But why? How did the simple joke of being ginger in the
Now, I’m not a grea follower of politics t I’m pretty sure you but ’re not meant to discrim against an opponen inate their hair colour. t by
playground become discrimination to ginger people everywhere? Last year, there was some worry about the red squirrel dying out. Harriet Harman, who was the deputy leader of the Labour party at the time, saw Danny Alexander (a redhaired Liberal Democrat MP) as an easy target. She said ‘But there is one
ginger rodent which we never want to see again – Danny Alexander!’. Now, I’m not a great follower of politics but I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to discriminate against an opponent by their hair colour. So, whenever you see a person with ginger hair, don’t mock them or tease them. Give a smile because everyone deserves a smile. It’s our human right to feel safe and be free of prejudice and discrimination and to be treated as equals regardless of racial, religious or even hair colour differences. Spread the word and embrace the ginger! l Words by Heather Illustrations by Sam 15
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Every child has the right to express him or herself and to receive all kinds of information and ideas (this is called freedom of expression).
A child is a person aged 17 or under.
g to all
All the rights in this Convention belon children.
Children must always be a top priority.
Governments must do all they can to children’s rights.
help Parents can give children advice and about their rights.
Every child has the right to have his or her own beliefs and religion.
Every child has the right to meet people and to be outside in a group (this is called freedom of association).
The law must protect every child’s right to privacy.
to be Every child has the right to be alive and the best person they can be.
Governments must make sure children get lots of different information about all sorts of things. They should protect children from harmful information.
Every child has the right to a name and parents. nationality, and to be cared for by both
right to Governments must protect the child’s. a name, a nationality and a family life
ular Every child has the right to keep in regthis is contact with both parents so long as the best thing for the child.
another Decisions about a child going to live in ly. country should be made quickly and fair
p Governments must work together to sto r country. children being taken illegally to anothe
Governments must support parents. Parents must always try to do what is best for children.
Every child must be protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad treatment.
Children who do not live with their parents have the right to extra protection.
The child must be the top priority in adoption.
Children who are refugees, or trying to be refugees, have the right to extra protection.
or her Every child has the right to express his iously. views, and those views must be taken ser
This summary of the UNCRC was written by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England
The UN Convention on t 16
Disabled children have the right to a full life, and to be part of the community.
*The UK Government agreed in June 2009 to make sure that disabled people living in the UK – children, young people and adults – get all the rights in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To find out more go to: www.crae.org.uk/rights/disabilityrightsconvention.html
Every child has the right to the best possible health.
Children who are in care or who live away from home for health reasons should have their care checked regularly.
Governments must support every child’s right to have enough money.
Children have the right to get everything they need to develop fully.
Every child has the right to education.
Education is about helping children to develop fully as people.
Children must never be stopped from enjoying their own culture, religion or language.
Every child has the right to rest, play and to do things they enjoy.
Children must be protected from harmful work.
Governments must do everything to protect children from illegal drugs.
Governments must protect children fro m being hurt sexually.
Governments must do everything to children from being taken away or solprotect d.
Governments must protect children fro m all other harm.
Every child has the right to protectio n from torture and very bad treatment.
Children must be protected from wa rs and from joining the armed forces.
Governments must give good suppo rt to children who have been abused or hur t.
Children who are in conflict with the have many extra rights, including thelaw to privacy, the right to a lawyer and toright protected from going to court or bei be ng sent to prison.
Governments must tell everyone abo ut all the rights in this Convention.
Articles 41 to 54
These articles say how children’s rights should be checked, and how governm should promote, protect and respect ents all the rights in this Convention. Optional Protocols are new rules that have been added to international laws, which governm ents can decide if they want to agree to. The UNCRC has two Optional Protocols – one on the involvement of children in armed conflict and one on the sale of children, child prostitut ion and child pornography. A third Optional Prot ocol is being developed at the moment. This will allow individu al children to make complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
the Rights of the Child 17
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eople are campaigning against the mosquito device because they claim it is discrimination against young people and goes against their rights. This is because it targets all young people whatever their behaviour and it wouldn’t be accepted if it was for adults. It is age discrimination.
Definition The mosquito device is a small, cage protected machine that emits a very high pitched ringing sound. Used to drive away young people from gathering in public areas to prevent misbehaviour occurring. Only people under the age of 25 can hear it. The UK currently has more mosquito devices than any other country in Europe. 18
Last month, Kirklees Youth Council ran a winning campaign to stop the use of the mosquito device on council buildings. Youth council campaigner George tells The Right Stuff about their campaign ‘Bite Back – Lets get the Mosquito banned’.
1. What was the aim of the campaign? To get the mosquito device banned in Kirklees through whatever ways we could legally. 2. How did you lobby your council to get rid of the mosquito devices? With a lot of hard work, persistence and effort! We heard that the installation of a mosquito device was under discussion, so we wrote a letter to the local paper criticising the council’s plans. 3. What happened after the letter? • Discussions with councillors – we befriended them and got them on our side! • Lobbying at council meetings. • Petitions with over 1,000 signatures presented to council. The council then put forward a plan to create a new policy! 4. Did you use European Court rulings and/or the Human Rights Act to make your case? We didn’t directly, as we found that councillors did agree completely with the moral issues of why the mosquito device should not be used. By the time
we got them to be banned, the council agreed that they had to go on their moral decision, which linked in with our rights. 5. What decision did the Kirklees council make? We got the mosquito banned from all council buildings! 6. Why could you not get rid of the mosquito device on private buildings? The council doesn’t have the authority to ban them in private businesses/residences because they are legal. The only way to ban them in private use is through a court case declaring them illegal or a change to the law through Parliament. Maybe the next campaign on the mosquito should be aimed at creating a law to make the mosquito device illegal… l Words by George and Emily
NFind out more about the
campaign by searching for: ‘Bite Back – Lets get the Mosquito banned’ on Facebook
Freedom of expression? Animal Farm, The Life of Brian and, more recently, Lowkey’s Obamanation and Lady Gaga’s Love Game. All these works of art have been censored in some way. So, asks The Right Stuff, what happened to freedom of expression?
ensorship is when books, music, film, media or other forms of expression and information are taken away or edited before they get in the hands of the public. This may seem to go against children’s rights, particularly Article 13 which gives every child the right to express him or herself and to receive all kinds of information and ideas. This is called freedom of expression.
Shouldn’t everyone be able to make their own choices about what they watch, read or listen to? It seems reasonable to say ‘yes’. People should have the right to be individuals and make their own decisions. However, the difficult decision is whether they have the right to express
themselves when they offend and discriminate against others? The human rights challenge is that people have both the right to express themselves and the right to be protected. Finding the balance between the two is difficult. For example, many people would feel that a book that stirs racial hatred shouldn’t be given a platform. Parents would want to protect their children from seeing things they might find disturbing. However, others would feel the author is merely using their right to freedom of expression. Back in 2009 there was a big public debate about whether Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, should have been allowed to appear on BBC’s Question Time. There was an outcry from many trade unions and MPs who argued that allowing the BNP to appear on TV wrongly suggested that it was acceptable to openly encourage discrimination. Others said the BNP is a political party which represents some people’s views
and its members have the right to freedom of expression. Censorship can be a tricky subject. Who should be protected and who should be given a voice? Certainly, human rights must always be ensured. Where do you stand on freedom of expression? l Words by Rebecca Image by The Right Stuff
Definition British National Party A political party that promotes and protects the rights of ‘native’ British people. Many people have called it racist. In the 2010 general election it said it would remove human rights protection and close down the Equality and Human Rights Commission if it got elected to government. No BNP candidates got enough votes to enter Parliament. 19
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Human rights Gareth Peirce is a human rights lawyer who’s particularly known for defending people within the Irish and Muslim communities accused of terrorism. The Right Stuff asks her 6 big questions… Gareth Peirce has been fighting for people who have not been treated fairly in the British justice system for decades and is a role model to all those aiming to make this country a fairer place to live in. She doesn’t shy away from controversy, working with the most widely persecuted groups in society. Q: What led to you becoming a human rights lawyer? A: I started off as a journalist in America at the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s when there was a big fight for people’s rights. Seeing it I thought there had to be a legal approach. Although the struggle on the street was important, I and others decided we would try to use the law to help.
Q: How do you think the spending cuts will affect children’s rights? A: It won’t affect the rights of children from families with plenty of money but children from families with less money will see the effects. They might have been aiming to go to university but find they just can’t afford it or, for example, if they are particularly talented at sports, they might find there aren’t the schemes there to support them. We are all going to notice it.
We don’t learn our lessons from the past so it’s a continuous cycle of having to campaign for change.
Q: What should young people do to find out more about human rights and law? A: They should ask schools to do courses in rights, as would happen in a country with a written constitution, for example America. Q: What do you think about the Wikileaks issue that hit the news at the end of 2010?
Some of Gareth’s high profile cases include: • The Birmingham Six • The Guildford Four • Judith Ward • Moazzam Begg • The family of Jean Charles de Menezes 20
A: It’s about what people see as public and private information. If you went to see your doctor it would be confidential, or if you went to a lawyer. What Wikileaks is publishing is public information.
Q: Do you think there is hope for the British justice system? A: There has to be hope. Q: What do you think the next generation has to do to continue the work you and others have done in changing the British justice system? A: They have to keep campaigning, like the students’ struggle at the moment or getting a relative freed from Guantanamo. We don’t learn our lessons from the past so it’s a continuous cycle of having to campaign for change. The state is always trying to take people’s rights away and people will always want more rights. l Interview by Rebecca
defenders is the Thomas Hammarberg man Commissioner for Hu l of Rights in the Counci ff asked tu S t h ig R e h T . e p ro Eu him 8 big questions...
Q: What did you want to be when you were 11? How did this change as you got older? A: I wanted to be a professional football player in Italy. Then I changed my mind a couple of times – first to be a forest worker and then a journalist. Q: What first inspired you to work in children’s rights? A: Working on human rights in general, I realised that children were the most victimised. Also, that a good childhood does not make you an oppressor.
this world better. One can influence if one tries. Q: What do you think poses the greatest threat to children’s rights at the moment? A: Complacency. That many government people believe that there are no longer any problems.
Ask questions! Demand answers!
Q: What achievement are you most proud of in your career? A: When there has been concrete results: for instance, when I managed to convince the authorities in South Ossetia to release five Georgian boys who had been put in prison.
Q: What’s been the highlight of this job so far? A: I am now Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe (not the EU). I travel much and see that there are volunteers in every country who work for human rights for others – this really is hopeful. Q: Why do you think it’s important for young people to get involved in campaigning for children’s rights? A: Because their participation is needed – it will make
Q: What advice would you give to young children’s rights campaigners? A: Study the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That agreement is very useful when demanding that the authorities respect children’s rights. Ask questions! Demand answers!
Q: What five words would you use to sum up what human rights mean to you? A: Respecting others; nondiscrimination; freedom of speech. l Interview by The Right Stuff team
NFind out more here: www.coe.int
Council of Europe human rights The Council of Europe protects the ntries in the of people who live in 47 different cou ldren and continent of Europe. 150 million chi rk. young people are affected by its wo
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You’ve landed everyone who hope you enjo
What’s the best thing about being a child?
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ng We hope that you’ve enjoyed learni ow about the Convention on the kn u yo w No ! us th wi hts rig n ma hu about ent things you can do: fer dif e fiv are re he ild Ch the of hts Rig nds and 1. Show this magazine to your frie to learn family. This will help more people about children’s rights! against your 2. If you think someone is going any rights, try to tell them. If you need ation orm advice or help, there’s some inf on the back cover. respect, 3. Treat everyone you know with too. That hts because they have human rig includes people who are smaller and ! younger than you – yes, babies too
to If you want to get involved in trying en, make our country better for childr g to itin wa are please get in touch – we hear from you! y 5. Always remember you are ver treat you uld sho important and everyone uld well. Your views count and you sho always feel safe and respected.
6½ million under 10 yearolds living in England.
DID YOU KNOW – there are over
January 2011 Words by Chris B Illustrations by Harpreet, Siham, Sekander, Jamal, Rishan, Tara
d in the under 10’s section of the magazine! These pages are for o likes to have fun whilst learning about children’s rights. We oy them! – THE RIGHT STUFF team. What’s not so good about being a child?
NOT S O GOO D
NOT SO GOOD
OOD G O S NOT
Draw your own picture here
Try and find the 7 words hidden in our children’s rights word search
C W E
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Children seeking asylum in the UK The Right Stuff investigates th e current state of children seeking asylum in the UK.
eaving your home country, where you know the language and have friends and a family, in exchange for a new life in a place where you don’t know anyone – and don’t know the language – is really hard. Making the journey alone is even tougher, which is why such children and young people should receive special support in England to assure them they are now safe, help them recover and enjoy their childhood. Sadly, the treatment asylum seeking children actually receive can involve interrogation and age disputes; long waits to access education; and imprisonment if the Government decides they have no right to stay.
So, it was excellent when in May 2010, its first month in office, the coalition Government announced that children would no longer be detained for asylum reasons. Disappointingly, the Government has changed the date for closure four times, and child detention is not set to completely end until May 2011. Immigration removal centres have faced widespread criticism. In 2010, an investigation by Medical Justice found that over half the children interviewed had been ‘psychologically harmed’ as a 24
result of detention. Significantly more had suffered from exacerbated health problems and many had witnessed violence against detainees. Celebrities have joined in protest, as did Nick Clegg (when he was not in Government) who sent an open letter to Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister, calling the work of these centres ‘state sponsored cruelty’. Other features of the treatment of asylum seeking children have changed recently. In July 2010, the Home Office “zero notice” policy was changed meaning that immigration officials are no
longer allowed to snatch children without notice for deportation. This policy was brought to court and the judge ruled that it
Disappointingly, the Government has changed the date for closure four times, and it is currently set for May 2011.
There is much more still to do to ensure that refugee and asylum seeking children have their human rights fully respected in the immigration system.
was illegal as it was preventing children from ‘enjoying the basic right of access to justice’. However, 12 children each month are still deported to Kabul in Afghanistan against their wishes and many children are sent back to their home countries, even though their safety there is doubtful. The practice of interrogating children illegally was stopped in March last year, but the story of one boy indicates that there needs to be a total shift in the attitudes of staff working with children in these settings. He was questioned even though he was hungry, frightened and tired. When he was allowed to sleep, he was locked in a room where ‘the floor was like concrete and it was freezing. I wasn’t given a blanket or anything for my arms’. The closure of family wings in detention centres is a welcome move, and the ending of illegal
practices can only improve the situation. But there is much more still to do to ensure that refugee and asylum seeking children have their human rights fully respected in the immigration system. l Words by Imogen Illustration by Sam
Immigration removal centres Places where people waiting to be forced out of the UK are held. They are a lot like prisons. In December 2010, Nick Clegg announced the closure of the family wing at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. Families can still be held at Tinsley House near Gatwick Airport. 25
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Writing to my MP
n June 2010, I met my new Member of Parliament to talk about CRAE’s Big Children’s Rights Ask. The Big Ask was set up to encourage young children’s rights campaigners to make contact with their new MP. I asked him about his views on children’s rights and how his party would implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
I was not allowed to record our meeting as I was told he had not ‘prepared for the interview’. He certainly hadn’t done any prior research as he was unaware of the UNCRC, 26
which has applied to the UK for nearly 20 years. I found the interview difficult as he would not express a personal or party view but instead spoke about the range of views on children’s rights across the “political spectrum”. Unfortunately, he declined to sign the Big Children’s Rights Ask on the basis that CRAE is a lobbying group and stating that his ‘priority is to listen to the concerns and views of parents’. My interview with my MP was disappointing for the following reasons: • He didn’t sign up to the Big Children’s Rights Ask. • I didn’t get direct answers. • He didn’t feel that children’s views were as important as those of parents.
It is a shame that my MP wasn’t interested but I will continue to campaign for children’s rights. l Words and image by Tom
NFind out more here:
Definition Member of Parliament (MP) The public vote for the politicians they want to run the country. The winning politician in each region (or constituency) then becomes a Member of Parliament.
Testing, testing, 1,2,3 When is an education not an education? When children as young as 10 are taught how to pass tests. The Right Stuff takes a closer look at the controversy surrounding SATs.
very year, 10 and 11 year olds are put through the ordeal of SATs in Year 6. SATs are national tests that all students in Year 6 in England are required to take.
You cram in lots of information throughout the year and are taught how to pass an exam. It puts pressure on children, teachers and parents. You don’t want to let anyone down. Not only are children stressed, but it puts a huge pressure on the school to do well in league tables and stops real learning from taking place. Surely, a 10 yearold shouldn’t be worrying about exams. A 10 yearold is too young to cope with the pressure and constant worry. To put pressure on a 10 yearold in this way is unfair and it goes against children’s rights. Last year, Christine Blower from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) criticised the tests by saying ‘Some of the articles in the Convention are about basic human rights. These include the right to be educated in the round not only to pass exams’.
…education is much more than passing tests, so much more. It is a discovery of the world around you.
The NUT and the National Association of Head Teachers went as far as boycotting these unfair tests in 2010 and many tests did not take place. Scotland and Wales have scrapped SATs, so it is only England hanging on to this demoralising system. This
practice of testing at such a young age passed its expiry date years ago. We cannot go on pretending that SATs are a huge success story when in fact it is the other way round. It was always the other way round. It is a system that sees education as a factory and children are being mass produced from the factory at a young age. The real truth is that education is much more than passing tests, so much more. It is a discovery of the world around you. l Words by Sarah Illustration by Ajeendiny
DID YOU KNOW? SATs stands for ‘Standard Assessment Tests’ 27
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World tour of Ch SHOULD POLICE BE ALLOWED TO USE TASER GUNS ON CHILDREN?
Taser gun: a weapon that gives a massive electric shock to limit the control someone has over their body. Used 223 times on children in the UK between 2007 and 2009. UK: legal for police to use on children but since July 1997 banned for export to other countries because of fears they will be used to torture people. USA: legal for police and, in some states, members of the public to use on children. Why do some people think it should be legal: they do not cause longterm damage and they allow police to immediately control a situation when it is out of hand. Why do some people think it should be illegal: there are major risks to life and safety. Chris Huhne MP (now part of the coalition Government) said in October 2009 that: ‘given the serious concerns about the safety of Tasers, which have killed more than 300 people in the US, they should not be used on children’. SHOULD SMACKING BE LE
England and Wales: illegal if it leaves a mark (since 2005). Legal if it is ‘reasonable’. But who decides what’s reasonable? 29 COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE: children have the same protection as adults from being hit. Kenya is the latest country to ban all hitting of children (including smacking). Why should smacking be legal? Parents have the right to discipline their children. Smacking may be a way in which the child will understand what they shouldn’t do. Why should smacking be illegal? Children have the right to be protected from all violence because it can be damaging to their wellbeing and confidence. If an adult was to hit another adult in the same way they hit a child, it would be considered to be assault. N www.childrenareunbeatable.org.uk 28
SHOULD IT BE THE LAW FOR SEX EDUCATION TO BE PROVIDED FOR ALL CHILDREN? Sex education: teaching on sex and relationships is part of the school curriculum, often in PSHE. England and Wales: only part of required science curriculum and parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex education whatever their age. GERMANY: sex education part of school curriculum since 1970. SWEDEN: sex education part of school curriculum since 1956. Arguments for parents’ choice: parents know when it’s the right time to teach their children about ‘the birds and the bees’. Arguments against parents’ choice: giving young people information could prevent the number of teenage pregnancies which are on the rise and help young people understand the seriousness of relationships.
hildren’s rights Words by Hayley Illustration by Sam
DID YOU KNOW? Only two countries in the world have not agreed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – Somalia and the USA.
SHOULD ASBOs EXIST FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18? AntiSocial Behaviour Order: a civil order made against a person (child or adult) who has been shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in antisocial behaviour. This is behaviour that is harmful to others. Breaking the rules of an order can result in a person being sent to prison. ENGLAND AND WALES: introduced in 1999. SCOTLAND: introduced in 2004. NORTHERN IRELAND: introduced in 2005. IRELAND: introduced in 2007. Arguments for ASBOs: people will fear punishment and so won’t behave badly. Arguments against ASBOs: 40% of all ASBOs in England and Wales were given to 10 to 17 year olds even though they make up just 10% of the population. Children are being targeted more than adults which is unfair. There are many negative effects on children who receive ASBOs. Some may continue to act badly, or see ASBOs as a badge of honour.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY? Age of criminal responsibility: the age at which Parliament has decided children are old enough to understand criminal actions if they commit them. Therefore they can be punished in a similar way to adults. INDIA: 7 KENYA: 8 ENGLAND: 10 IRAN: 9 for girls, 15 for boys TURKEY: 11 FRANCE: 13 CHINA: 14 NORWAY: 15 SPAIN: 16 POLAND: 17 BELGIUM: 18 Arguments for age 10: At 10, a child has at least a simple understanding of right and wrong, for example murder being wrong. In 1993, James Bulger, a 2 yearold, was abducted, tortured and murdered by two 10 yearold boys. Some people in the UK argue they were rightly punished. Arguments against 10: A child below the age of 15 is not mature enough to fully understand the effect of their actions. A child may commit crimes because of things such as distress in their school, home or other environments, and so it is not their fault. This means they should not be punished in the same way as adults.
INTERNATIONAL MONITORING OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child checks that each government is doing all it can to make sure children and young people get all their human rights. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is a group of 18 children’s rights experts from all over the world. The Committee meets three times a year in Geneva in Switzerland. Find out how children in England were involved in reporting to the UN Committee in 2008: www.getreadyforchange.org.uk 29
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d n a s right
fashion Who’d have thought that there was ever a link? We are forever looking for cheap deals but it seems that we never consider where our clothes actually come from, if they are ethical, or if the people who make them are treated fairly. The Right Stuff investigates…
ome popular highstreet stores have been criticised for using child labour to make cheap clothing. Undercover journalists reported many workers being abused, working incredibly long hours and being paid very low wages. Their rights were definitely not being respected. It seems our cheap clothes come at a very high price. As young people, we are strapped for cash! But there are still plenty of things we can do to make our shopping more ethical and to respect human rights. Here is The Right Stuff’s top 10 tips for being a more ethical shopper: 30
1. Buy fair trade. 2. Check on retailers’ websites, in the press and on labels to see how the clothes have been made. 3. Write to retailers where the workers’ rights are not respected. 4. Give your old clothes to charity
shops – they rely on you! 5. Do your own shopping in charity shops – there’s always plenty of bargains! 6. Only buy what you need – when you next go shopping, just think: ‘do I really need this new pair of jeans?’ The answer is most likely ‘no’! 7. Consider local, independent stores which are often more ethical. 8. Join ActionAid … Check out its website: www.actionaid.org.uk. 9. Buy clothes that support human rights such as HRC which supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people: http://shop.hrc.org/ clothing.html. 10. Get campaigning! l Words and image by Alice Illustration by Sam
Reader survey We hope you enjoyed reading this magazine.
e want to create many more issues of The Right Stuff. To help us make it the best magazine around, we need your views! What do you think about the magazine: which articles did you like best; what did you think of the design; have you given a copy to a friend? Please take five minutes to complete this short survey – then send this page to CRAE at 94 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF. Alternatively you can complete the survey on our website: www.surveymonkey.com/s/TheRightStuffreaderfeedbacksurvey We look forward to hearing your views. – The Right Stuff Team
Survey questions Did you get an electronic or printed copy of this magazine? ................................................................................... ................................................................................... Where did you get a copy of this magazine? ................................................................................... ................................................................................... Rate the magazine from 1 – 5 (1 is worst, 5 is best) Name – 1 2 3 4 Explain your answer:
................................................................................... Content (what is in the magazine) 1 2 3 4 5 Explain your answer: ................................................................................... ................................................................................... Had you heard about children’s human rights before reading this magazine? No q
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Design – 1 2 3 4 Explain your answer:
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RIGHTS ADVICE Children's Rights Alliance for England
If you have a problem, or if something is worrying you, it can really help to talk to someone about it. CRAE runs a free, confidential legal advice service for children and young people. We can advise you by phone or email about the law, your human rights and what to do if you are being treated unfairly. We can put you in touch with other organisations that protect human rights. Our service is for under 18s but we also offer advice to adults who contact us on behalf of children and young people. Telephone: 0800 32 88 759 between 3.30pm and 5.30pm, Tuesday to Thursday. Your phone call will be free unless you ring from a mobile. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Our website has free guides on different children’s rights subjects such as when parents split up or how to find a lawyer: www.crae.org.uk/protecting/advice/resources-for-young-people.html
OTHER USEFUL NUMBERS If you are a child and need to talk to someone, ChildLine offers a free, confidential helpline. You can call it at any time on 0800 11 11 or go online at www.childline.org.uk. If you are an adult worried about a child, call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child in England living away from home, you can get free advice from the Office of the Children’s Rights Director for England at www.rights4me.org.uk or freephone 0800 5228 0731. If you are in care or in contact with social services, an advocate or children’s rights officer should be able to give advice about your rights and help you to be heard. Contact CRAE for more information (see above).