20 November 2017
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released its ninth annual State of the Child Report today at a breakfast fundraiser for NB Champions for Child Rights Inc.
In identifying the progress and the shortcomings in relation to child rights, the report encourages all stakeholders to strive even harder to promote and protect the rights of New Brunswick children and youth. The report contains an overview of issues facing youth in the province, including mental health, poverty, and educational engagement. This year the report has a special focus on the need to improve the youth criminal justice system.
The report contains more than 200 data indicators in a Child Rights Indicators Framework.
Some discouraging findings in the report include that youth in poverty face many more challenges than the general youth population. They are less likely to feel safe and be engaged at school. They are more likely to be depressed, have anxiety, smoke cigarettes, use cannabis and drink alcohol. They are less likely to have supportive families and know how to get help in their communities.“This week is an opportunity to see all parts of the community engage in child rights education,” said Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé. “This year’s theme is based on articles 4 and 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 4 discusses governments’ responsibility to promote and protect child rights, and Article 12 discusses the child’s right to be heard.”
Despite these findings, Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé, said he is optimistic that the province can continue to build upon the improvements it has made in upholding children’s rights.
“New Brunswick has made significant improvements in mental health services to children and youth, but the province is really just beginning what needs to be done,” Bossé said. “Similarly, while the work of those improving the youth criminal justice system should be commended, we are still using shackling and solitary confinement on youths, and detaining youths accused of crimes with those convicted of crimes. The government has also not yet formally responded to my office’s More Care Less Court report recommendations.”
Today’s launch of the State of the Child Report coincides with the start of Child Rights Education Week, which runs from Nov. 20 to 26. It is a week to celebrate and promote the rights of children and youth.
Bossé called upon the government to create a provincial Child and Youth Strategy to improve rights protection.
“A great many people are working hard to improve the lives of children,” he said. “We need to continue to work together more in this regard.”
Travis Daley, communications, Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, 506- 453-3996, T