NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today reminded Government of their commitment to protect children and young people from all forms of violence and abuse.
The Commissioner emphasised the promises made to children and young people by government to keep them safe as part of its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
She said that some progress had been made but more needed to be done, and that budget cuts cannot be an excuse for not effectively protecting children and young people.
“I welcome the legislation passing through the NI Assembly to establish a Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.” said the Commissioner.
“To be truly effective the Board must make sure there is joined up working across all agencies to support and protect children.”
Ms Lewsley said the new Safeguarding Board must prioritise work in areas of Case Management Reviews and child deaths as a matter of urgency.
“Northern Ireland has not kept pace with some other parts of the United Kingdom. Stringent processes need to be in place to make sure we learn the difficult lessons of what has gone wrong when children have not been kept safe.”
“At this time of budget cuts, I have grave concerns about the potential impact of these on services which support and protect children, specifically social care funding.
"As part of my Make it Right campaign I hope that children and young people will act now to help make it right for children and young people affected by all types of abuse.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was established in 2003 by the NI Assembly. The job of the Commissioner is to safeguard and promote the rights and bests interests of children and young people. Find out more at www.niccy.org
- The Commissioner's Make It Right campaign supports children and young people campaigning on the issues that effect their lives, as well as providing Ministers and MLAs 12 detailed policy briefings. Copies of all the policy and campaign briefings are available on the NICCY website or by contacting the NICCY Communications team on 028 9031 1616.
- "Steps must be taken to ensure that social care services do not simply contract into ‘core’ child protection activities but recognise the vital importance of prevention and early intervention provision in keeping children safe.”