THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, has said the UNICEF report on children’s wellbeing clearly shows how much work needs done to improve the lives of many children and young people.
Ms Lewsley said that the findings of the report reflected what children and young people tell us every day about their experiences.
“It’s no surprise that we’re bottom of the league in looking after and caring for all our children and young people,” she said. “The complaints we receive from children and young people about the way they are treated, the findings of service reviews, confirm what we know from the evidence we have in our research into Children’s Rights – it says clearly much more needs to be done.”
Ms Lewsley said too many children and young people are in dire circumstances in Northern Ireland.
“Young people have also told us how they feel they are all portrayed in a negative light, even if it is a minority of children or young people who get into trouble or cause annoyance. Too often the 500,000 children and young people in Northern Ireland are shown in the media in a particularly poor way,” she said
The Commissioner said there had been some welcome and positive advances for children but Government must double its efforts and make children and young people much more of a priority now by improving services and support for children and young people.
“For example, let’s remember that in our modern, progressive country we have 32,000 children and young people living in poverty. That is not acceptable.
Ms Lewsley continued: “Government can take immediate action by making the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a key part of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
“That way the 42 promises made when the Government signed the Convention can be enforceable in law to protect, support and act in the best interests of children and young people.”
Notes for Editors