Submission to the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO). Parallel Report for the Baseline Report in Monitoring the United Kingdom December 2023.
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) has long expressed concern at the levels of gender-based violence experienced by children and young people in Northern Ireland (NI) with an understanding of the multi-level ‘social ecologies of violence and harm’, within the state, community, school and family systems which require a contextual safeguarding approach. The NI Children and Young People’s Strategy 2020-2030 (CYPS) is about improving the wellbeing of all children and young people by delivering positive long-lasting outcomes. The strategy has been developed in the context of the Children’s Services Co-operation Act (NI) 2015 (CSCA). The Act defines the well-being of children and young people with respect to eight characteristics, including: physical and mental health; living in safety and with stability; learning and achievement; economic and environmental well-being; the enjoyment of play and leisure; living in a society in which equality of opportunity and good relations are promoted; the making by children and young people of a positive contribution to society; and living in a society which respects their rights. However, not all children in NI get the best start in life, with many living with gender-based violence as both victims and perpetrators.
NI has been without a functioning Executive and Assembly since February 2022 which has led to a long line of draft policies, programmes, strategies and legislation queuing, waiting to be agreed and implemented. A number of these identified are about tackling gender-based violence and improving the lives of girls and boys. NICCY is deeply concerned that decades of austerity, the impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and a lack of an Executive has and will significantly impact on children and young people’s wellbeing for years to come.