Calls from the Children’s Commissioner to ensure that children and the rights of children are at the heart of policy and legislative reform are supported by the Human Rights Commission.
The UNCROC Monitoring Group, which the Human Rights Commission is part of, has today released the Getting It Right – The Children’s Convention in Aotearoa report about how New Zealand is putting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children’s Convention) into practice, and where it can do better.
Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says the report’s recommendations gives the Government a clear steer on where to next for children’s rights.
“Key issues such as housing, education, abuse, poverty and bullying in schools continue to have an immense impact on the lives and rights of our youngest New Zealanders and that has to be addressed.
“For too long, policy and legislation has been developed for and about children and young people, without involving them in the process.
“While the new Government has many policies targeted at addressing some key issues, reducing bullying in New Zealand schools does not appear to be an area of focus yet. Education Ministers have recognised for decades that the level of bullying in our schools, compared to other OECD countries, is a disgrace.
“Government programmes announced as the solution in the past have yet to reduce the number of New Zealand students bullied in our schools. We are still amongst the worst in the developed world and we need to do something about that now.
"Programmes, such as the Finnish KiVa anti-bullying programme, are centred around students children and have shown great results in reducing bullying in schools and yet only 29 New Zealand schools have adopted it.
“Until there is a visible reduction in our bullying rates, UN Human Rights bodies will continue to want to know why the introduction of anti-bullying programs, proven to work in New Zealand and overseas, have not been supported by the State.
“International human rights law requires the State to keep student’s safe in our schools. Our domestic law does too. However, the data shows we are failing to do that.
“In March next year, the Committee on Economic, Social and Culture Rights will review New Zealand’s performance on poverty, housing, health, education (including bullying in New Zealand schools).
“This will be the next UN reporting opportunity for New Zealanders concerned about children’s human rights and the Commission will be encouraging young people to make a submission and ensure we all continue to drive change for our Tamariki,” Mr Rutherford says.
To read the UNCROC monitoring report, visit: http://www.occ.org.nz/childrens-rights-and-advice/uncroc/