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Report reveals children don’t know about their rights

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)

Media Release

October 12, 2016

Youth-led report reveals children don’t know about their rights

Young people and politicians will gather at Parliament tomorrow to launch Our Voices, Our Rights, a youth-led report which reveals that children in New Zealand don’t know about their rights.

The event will be co-hosted by Labour MP Jacinda Ardern and National MP Alfred Ngaro, while panelists include Greens co-leader Metiria Turei, Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Judge Carolyn Henwood, author of the Covenant for Our Nation's Children.

Youth representatives from UNICEF New Zealand and Save the Children New Zealand will moderate the discussion and ask questions to politicians about the most pressing issues that affect children.

UNICEF New Zealand Child Rights Advocate Dr Prudence Stone welcomed collaboration between politicians and young people.

“We want to celebrate the fact that politicians and young people are coming together to draw attention to child rights. Sadly many children and members of the public still don’t know that children even have rights.”

The report comes after youth representatives from UNICEF New Zealand and Save the Children New Zealand supported 1198 children from around the country to share their views about child rights. These consultations helped to inform the recent fifth periodic review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and ensured children’s voices were at the heart of the reporting process.

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Dr Prudence Stone said some of the findings were alarming. “Thirty-eight per cent of children who participated didn’t know what their rights were. Only four children knew it was actually their right to learn about their rights, and that government was responsible for upholding this right.”

Dr Stone said the level of introspection and maturity in children’s answers was noteworthy. “A large majority of children showed concern about serious issues such as inequity within education, inadequate shelter and food insecurity, as well as the levels of violence that affect children in New Zealand”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child agreed with many of these findings, including similar observations in recommendations to the New Zealand Government last weekend.

Dr Stone went on to say that children even identified possible solutions such as free healthcare for teens, teaching parents caregiving skills, giving them safe places to go and someone with whom to talk. Many recognised that these measures were the responsibility of government.

“It is a positive step towards ensuring that children’s voices are heard at all levels of society. Children are our future leaders and they deserve a platform to share their actions for the future.”

The panel discussion will take place in the Banquet Room in Parliament at 4pm and media are welcome to attend.


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