ISPCC and the Children’s Rights Alliance call on Oireachtas to take urgent action to protect children
Today marks the resumption of the Dáil and Seanad and children’s organisations the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Children’s Rights Alliance are asking the government to make children a priority and ensure that Children First Bill is placed on a statutory footing without delay.
The summer period saw widespread media coverage of ongoing risks to children in a range of areas, including the placement of children in emergency accommodation, ongoing use of the direct provision system and risks to children online and through use of social media.
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Children’s Rights Alliance believe these issues demonstrate a need for national urgency to ensure our child protection regime is fit for purpose. An immediate step towards this is to ensure a robust legislative framework and a commitment to well resourced and child-centred services.
Both organisations support an amendment by Senator Jillian Van Turnhout to use the Children First Bill to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement, which would in effect amount to a ban on corporal punishment.
According to ISPCC CEO Grainia Long, ‘In 2014, 460,000 children called Childline, and many of those calls related to children at risk. This legislation could be a game-changer in reforming our national culture, so that keeping children safe is accepted as everyone’s business. The Children First Bill is a long-awaited and generally non-contested piece of legislation. It sets out clear obligations for organisations that provide services to children and also aims to ensure that individuals working with children have a responsibility to report child protection or safety concerns. In the interests of children, we call on the Houses of the Oireachtas to ensure speedy passage and well-resourced implementation of this important bill.'
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, ‘This Bill is the first real chance to introduce a ban on corporal punishment. We know that the use of corporal punishment is harmful to children of all ages and detrimental to the child-parent relationship. Ireland will appear for the third time before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child this coming January. The State will again be asked why it has not banned corporal punishment. Now is the time for Ireland to send out a clear message that children have a right to protection from harm in all circumstances, including corporal punishment.’
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Maria Corbett, Legal and Policy Director
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