2.Getting it Right for Children and Young People[2]
Kia tika mo ngā tamariki, rangatahi

States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in this present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
Article 2, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.
Preamble, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

2.1 Introduction /
Timatatanga

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Human Rights in New Zealand Today / Ngā Tika Tangata O Te Motu identified human rights abuses against children and young people as one of the greatest challenges facing New Zealand . The most serious human rights abuses experienced by children and young people relate to violence and poverty. Bullying and discrimination are widespread in some school environments. Better protection of children and young people is a major human rights challenge for everyone.

Children and young people live, learn and grow as part of families, whanau and communities. The extent to which children and young people in New Zealand are able to fully enjoy their basic rights depends on the extent to which all people in New Zealand enjoy human rights. Equally, a society that meets the basic rights of its children and young people (to freedom from discrimination, education, health, an adequate standard of living and safety from violence) is building a future in which all its members are more likely to enjoy their human rights.

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Outside the home, the most important places for realising the rights of children and young people are early childhood centres and school communities. The concept of early childhood centres and schools as human rights communities appears throughout this section. This concept involves students and their families, as well as principals, teachers, Boards of Trustees, and the wider community. It has a number of specific actions. These include learning about rights and responsibilities, and creating an environment wh ere there is freedom from violence, bullying and harassment, where individuality and diversity are respected, and where all those involved are able to participate fully.

2.2 Protection and fulfillment of rights /
Te tiaki me te tutuki pai o ngā tika

Outcome: The human rights of children and young people are respected, protected and fulfilled.

The status report noted that New Zealand has three formal reservations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These relate to children unlawfully in New Zealand , the protection of children in employment and the mixing of young and adult prisoners. The government work programme on compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child identifies the steps that need to be taken toward the lifting of New Zealand ’s reservations to the Convention.

The status report also identified a specific gap in the legal framework for the protection and fulfillment of the rights of children and young people aged between 16 and 18 years in New Zealand .

Priorities for action:

2.3 Participation in decision-making /
Te urunga ki ngā whakataunga

Outcome: Every child and young person in New Zealand is able to express their views and be heard on matters that affect them, and have their views taken into account in accordance with their age and maturity.

Human Rights in New Zealand Today / Ngā Tika Tangata O Te Motu noted that the importance of participation rights is recognised in both the Agenda for Children and the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa . Opportunities for genuine involvement in decision-making processes are limited in many settings, however, including schools and judicial processes. There is a need to actively promote participation rights in government and non-government sectors, and to develop and promote educational resources, guidelines and other tools to involve children and young people in decision-making processes. In order to participate fully in society, children and young people also need to know their democratic rights and responsibilities. The current review of the social studies curriculum in New Zealand offers an opportunity to address this.

Priorities for action:

2.4 Safety and freedom from violence /
Kia wātea kia maru mai i ngā mahi tukino

Outcome: Every child and young person in New Zealand is safe and violence is not tolerated.

Human Rights in New Zealand Today / Ngā Tika Tangata O Te Motu concluded that too many children and young people in New Zealand suffer from abuse and neglect. This violence is able to continue only because it is sanctioned throughout New Zealand society.

The safety outcome in the Civil and Political Rights section of this plan proposes actions to address family violence generally, including child abuse. The priorities chosen for this section are focused on prevention of child abuse and injury. Families, early childhood centres and schools all have a crucial role to play in preventing violence against children and young people.

Government agencies and communities are already working to improve child and youth safety through strategies such as Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy and SKIP: Strategies with Kids - Information for Parents. It is critical to ensure that their ongoing implementation is effective. Many schools and early childhood centres have effective policies and programmes to reduce violence. Developing schools and early childhood centres as human rights communities can strengthen these programmes by providing a comprehensive approach to the rights and responsibilities of the child or young person.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended that section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 (which allows force to be used on a child for discipline where it is deemed reasonable in the circumstances) be reviewed to effectively ban all forms of corporal punishment. The Government has signaled that it will review this law in 2005.

The status report found high rates of intentional and unintentional injury of children in New Zealand . While New Zealand has a generic injury prevention strategy, it does not specifically address children and young people.

Priorities for action:

2.5 Rights of children in institutional care or detention /
Ngā tika o ngā tamariki i roto i ngā kāinga whakaruruhau, me ngā waahi mauhere

Outcome: Children and young people are given maximum opportunity to grow up in a family environment, and where they are lawfully detained or taken from their whanau/families they are safe and are treated with respect for their human rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that the child should, wherever possible, grow up in a family environment, and that the family should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance to provide this role. The status report found that the families of disabled children face particular challenges and may therefore require specific support.

The status report also identified several serious concerns for the rights of children and young people in institutional care or detention. It found indications that practice in Child, Youth and Family residences is not meeting standards in legislation and guidelines. An independent review of the Child, Youth and Family Services grievance panel system found that the current system is not working effectively and is not providing adequate protection to children and young people in residences. In addition, there are not enough beds for young people who need to be detained and not enough options to release young people on supported bail.

The status report also identified that young people are sometimes held in police cells for lengthy periods or mixed with adults in police cells or prisons. It identified a lack of available official information on the numbers, characteristics and experiences of children and young people in detention. The Ministry of Youth Development is currently working with the Department of Corrections to develop a best interests test in relation to age-mixing in detention.

Priorities for action:

2.6 Elimination of child poverty /
Te whakakahore i ngā tikanga rawakore o ngā tamariki

Outcome: Every child and young person in New Zealand has an adequate standard of living.

Human Rights in New Zealand Today / Ngā Tika Tangata O Te Motu found that nearly one in three children and young people in New Zealand live in poverty. This has significant implications for their development and experience of human rights. While a number of government actions are contributing to improving this situation, such as the Working for Families Budget Package 2004 , research into poverty in New Zealand shows that policy challenges still exist in three key areas: affordable housing (the largest and first paid item in the household budget); adequate income support; and education, training and community support.

Priorities for action:

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(Further actions to promote the right to housing and to an adequate standard of living are set out in the section of this plan addressing economic, social and cultural rights.)

2.7 Education for all children and young people /
Te mātauranga mo ngā tamariki rangatahi

Outcome: Every child and young person in New Zealand has equitable access to appropriate quality education services.

New Zealand has ratified the United Nations Conventions that stipulate provision of free compulsory education. Free primary and secondary education is built into New Zealand legislation and confirmed through Ministry of Education policy documents. There is evidence that pressure continues to be exerted on parents and carers to pay school “fees” and other school expenses.

Human Rights in New Zealand Today / Ngā Tika Tangata O Te Motu noted that p articipation and achievement rates for Maori, Pacific peoples and those from poor communities are disproportionately low. The report also found that participation and achievement levels of some groups (e.g. disabled children and young people) are not known. Being able to participate fully in education enhances student achievement. Education in te reo Māori based on kaupapa Māori is one way to increase educational achievement and participation.

The latest report on the Competent Children study establishes that participation in early childhood education makes a lasting contribution to children’s achievement at school. The Schooling Strategy for New Zealand aims to provide a framework for improving student outcomes in schooling. In the meantime, specific measures need to be taken to comprehensively assess participation rates and to remove barriers to full participation.

Priorities for action:

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(Priorities for action in relation to access to quality health services are contained in the section on economic, social and cultural rights.)

2.8 Respect for identity /
Te whakapumau tuakiri

Outcome: The diversity of all children and young people in education is respected, and they are equally able to maintain and develop their own identity, including gender, ethnicity, language, culture, religious belief, disability, family status and sexual orientation.

The status report identified that the fundamental right to identity is not a reality for all children and young people in New Zealand . Early childhood education centres and schools are ideal places in which to learn about and practise acceptance of difference and diversity. The development of schools and centres as human rights communities would provide a comprehensive approach to all the actions in this section.

Priorities for action:

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State

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Article 16, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

2.9 The rights of the family /
Nga tika o te whānau

Outcome: Families are actively supported to play their central role in the protection of human rights.

Families play a central role in the protection of human rights. In New Zealand most families are able to fulfil this role by:

However, the status report identified a number of factors that make it difficult for some families to fulfil this role, such as a lack of acceptance of differences, abuse of dependent family members, structural disadvantage and discrimination, and barriers to some family members participating fully in society. As a priority for action, the report identified the challenges facing families in their core role as caregivers, including the care of dependent children, disabled people and older people.

As families in all their different forms become stronger and more resilient, the situation will improve for all family members, including children, and those who are elderly or disabled, and this will help to protect their human rights. Since its formation at the start of July 2004, the Families Commission has been working on identifying the issues that affect families. Many of the actions identified in this plan are expected to bring about improvements for families. This section focuses on the need for better understanding of the challenges facing families today.

Priority for action:

2. The phrase "children and young people" is used in this document to refer to people under the age of 18 years, in line with the definition of "children" in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Return to chapter

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