The Rights Quiz was developed and is updated annually by Bill Badham of Practical Participation. It is available at http://hbr.nya.org.uk/ in the Downloads section. The information is taken from the annual State of Children’s Rights in England report from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (2009) with supplementary information from Government’s report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and from the NGO alternative report to the Committee, both in 2008. These are all available at www.crae.org.uk. The quiz takes Every Child Matters outcomes as its headings. Most answers relate to England only, unless otherwise indicated. Findings relate predominantly to those under 18 (the legal definition of “child” in the UK). See also http://www.nya.org.uk/policy/facts-and-statistics
Children and young people in England generally report good health: they are drinking less alcohol, smoking less and eating more fruit. Expenditure on health care has risen from 6.6% of GDP in 1997 to 8.4% in 2007. However, some big challenges remain. Just over 1 in 10 children and young people have mental health problems requiring professional help in England, but only 25% of these get access to relevant services. Exams are the single biggest cause of stress and our children and young people are one of the most tested in the world. More than 24,000 teenagers are taken to hospital in Britain each year after deliberately harming themselves.
While many young women make a positive decision about when they choose to have children and are excellent mothers, statistically teenage pregnancy is four times more likely among poorer families, is associated with low self esteem and educational achievement and links to lower chances of economic and social well being among their children. In policy terms, some recent success has been linked to improved strategic planning, partnership working and sustained funding.
We think most child deaths are caused by strangers. But most are caused by someone the child knows well. While the number of child homicides fluctuates each year (55 reported in 2007), the overall rate has remained broadly similar since the 1970s and less than other developed nations. Infants aged under 1 are most at risk and 2/3 of homicides are under 5. The second most at risk group are those over 16. Children remain the only people it is legal to hit in our country (Sec 58 Children Act, 2004), despite three consecutive recommendations from the Committee on the Rights of the Child to give children equal protection under the law from assault . Good news is that the % of deaths among those known to social services is going down.
In Corby, it is suicide. But in most areas it is traffic. For Children’s Trusts and the Children’s Plan to be effective, they need to be grounded in good local information and recognise and ensure action on issues in children and young people’s lives that may not be the primary responsibility of any individual Board member – like traffic calming measures, safe routes to school and communal play areas and home zones.
For those working in community based services, it is easy for young people in custody to be out of sight and out of mind. But they remain our collective moral responsibility and they remain the legal responsibility of the local authority. The Children’s Plan should make explicit reference to those in custody and partnership arrangements for their well being and education inside and on release.
These young people are not simply a statistic. A range of professionals have known each and every one of them. They have been to pre-school provision and to local schools. They have used health and youth services and they, most likely, have been in contact with advice and information resources as well safeguarding and youth offending services. Physical restraint was used in children in secure training centres (STCs) 1,792 times and 4,274 times in Youth Offending Institutions between April 2008 and March 2009 (a rise of 25% in YOIs on the previous year).
970 of these, or about 12%, were from our primary schools. And while children and young people may take part in the collective governance of the school (Education and Skills Act, 2008), they as yet have no legal right to take part in their own exclusion hearing. (It is however encouraged in the non statutory guidance accompanying the 2007 Education and Inspection Act and is being consulted on by DCSF currently; complaints, if unresolved at school level, can now, however, be referred to the Local Government Ombudsman.)
Children and young people from Black and minority ethnic origins are twice as likely to be permanently excluded as White children and young people. Students with special educational needs (229,100 in England in 2007) are three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than the rest of the school population.
This significant improvement by Looked After young people has been helped by reducing school moves at critical times and establishing clear goals and accountabilities within the local authority. The rate of progress however is slower than in the general student population. (The figure of 60,900 includes care orders and those voluntarily “accommodated” at the request of parents.)
“You can’t talk about children’s well-being unless you talk about the gross inequality in their life experiences. No nation has significantly cut child poverty without reducing inequalities too.” (Polly Toynbee, Guardian Weekly, April 6-12, 2007, p16.) Poverty is defined as a household income which is below 60% of the average income. JRF indicates it costs the UK £25b a year. In 1997, there were 4.2m children living in poverty in Britain. JRF research indicates Government will now miss its pledge to half child poverty by 2010, figures having been on the increase since 2005. JRF indicates government must spend £4 billion more a year on child care, benefits, welfare to work and tax credits to get back on track to eradicate poverty (now defines as under 10%!) by 2020. This does not sound much in relation to the bank bailout. There are about 400,000 families with dependents in England living in overcrowded conditions. Virtually no families are now housed in bed and breakfast accommodation but this practice persists for 16-17 year olds despite Government targets to abolish this by 2010. The number of children in low-income households where at least one adult works is, at 2.1m, the highest it has ever been. Half a million higher than in 2003/04; it is this increase that has stalled progress towards the Government's child poverty targets – prior to the recession.
The Government has recently removed its reservation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child on asylum seeking children and young people. This means that young refugees and asylum seekers now have the same rights as all children and young people in the UK. Of particular concern in practice though is the use of and the length of detention of minors, unacceptable conditions in immigration centres and the lack of guardians for unaccompanied minors to look after their best interests. Government has pledged to use detention of minors as a last resort, yet between January and June 2009, a total of 470 children and young people entered immigration detention, of whom 335 were asylum seekers.
This statistic most starkly illustrates what social exclusion means: 15 years of life.
England has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in Europe. As a % of the population, we lock up more children and young people than any other nation in Europe, about 3000 in 2009 (the figure was 300 in 1989). “By this measure, England and Wales have a more punitive judicial system than most of the world’s dictatorships.” (George Monbiot, Guardian Weekly, 4 July, 2008, p20.)
Children and young people receive 46% of all ASBOs, yet are only 9% of the population. The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner described how the indiscriminate use of ASBOs was “turning the pesky into pariahs.” As ASBOs are not criminal convictions they are freely reported in the press.
These findings are from Ofsted’s 2008 Tellus3 national results.
This study combines quantifiable data with qualitative information direct from children and young people. Findings include that Britain was 18 out of 21 on child poverty; 15 out of 21 on child health and safety; and 21 out of 21 – last - for relationships and happiness. “While Ministers, the Prime Minister included, appear comfortable using the language of rights when talking about children abroad, there is a reluctance to acknowledge that children in England have rights, that the State has legal obligations and that children’s rights abuses are happening in our own institutions and communities.” Crae, June 2008: Analysis of children's rights in England, p2.). In a further study of European nations in 2008 using the same indicator set, Britain came 17 th out of 21.
Improving Outcomes Quiz (2009 Updated Version)
The rights quiz 2009
A good year for children and young people’s
rights to improved outcomes in England?
State of Children’s Rights in England, November 2009
Quiz at http://hbr.nya.org.uk/
What % of children and young people have mental
health problems requiring professional help in
Answer: B – 11%
The rate of teenage pregnancies is:
A. The highest in Western Europe
B. In the middle
C. The lowest in Western Europe
Answer: A – the highest
How many children and young people die in the
home each year because of neglect or abuse from
someone they know well?
A. Up to 10 a year (one a month)
B. Up to 80 a year (between one and two a week)
C. Up to 360 a year (about one a day)
Answer: B – up to 80 a year, or 2 a week
Which is the biggest killer of 12-16 year olds
A. Childhood diseases
Answer: C – traffic
Who said conditions in our young offender
institutions are “unacceptable in a civilised
society” and “institutionalised child abuse.”
A. The Chief Inspector of Prisons
B. The Howard League for Penal Reform
C. The Home Secretary
How many young people have died in youth
custody between 1990 and 2009?
Bonus question: how many public enquiries
into these deaths has the Home Secretary
put in place?
Answer: A – 30 and no public enquiry
(only Coroners' reports and Child Death Reviews)
Enjoying and achieving
8,680 children and young people were permanently
excluded from school in 2009.
( A drop of 7% from the previous year)
What % of those were 11 years old or under?
A. About 12%
B. About 1.3%
C. About 33%
Answer: A – about 12%
What % of school exclusions are for children and
young people with special educational needs?
Answer: B – 63%
Local authorities are the legal parent of about 60,900
children and young people. What % leave the care of
the local authority with no GCSEs or GNVQs?
Answer: C – 57% (improved from 71%)
The UK is the fifth richest country in the world, yet
what % of our children and young people live in
relative poverty in England?
A. 10% (1.1 million)
B. 36% (3.5 million)
C. 50% (5.5 million)
Answer: B – 36%
(A rise for the fourth year running after reduction
between 1998 and 2005)
Asylum seeking families get what level of
benefits as other poor families?
A. The same – asylum seeking children have the
same rights in law
B. About 30% more due to their exceptional needs
C. About 30% less
Answer: C – 30% less
What’s the life expectancy gap at birth between
rich and poor in England?
A. 5 years
B. 15 years
C. 55 years
Answer: B – 15 years
Making a positive contribution
Government statistics indicate youth crime has
gone down each year for the last 11 years.
Has the % of young people entering the criminal
justice system, therefore:
A. Gone down by 27%
B. Stayed the same
C. Gone up by 27%
64% of young people breach their ASBOs. What % of
these young people then end up in prison for these
A. 0% – ASBOs are not criminal convictions
Answer: C (a total of 1,184 children and young people)
In Ofsted’s Tellus survey among years 8 and 10, what
% felt their views were listened to and that these made
a difference to decision making in their local area?
Answer: A – 28%
Improving outcomes for children and
young people in England?
In a recent UNICEF study across developed nations of
the world, growing up in Britain ranked:
A. In the top third of countries
B. In the middle third
C. In the bottom third
Answer: C – Britain ranked last out of 21 nations
across an average of 40 indicators
Improving outcomes for children and
young people in England?
“Children and young people’s human rights
are not a pick and mix assortment of luxury
entitlements, but the very foundation of
Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner
All information from: www.crae.org.uk
The quiz can be downloaded at www.nya.org.uk/hearbyright/downloads