Nov. 20, 2019
FREDERICTON (GNB) — The Office of the Child, Youth and Seniors’ Advocate released its 11th State of the Child Report today at an annual breakfast fundraiser hosted by NB Champions for Child Rights Inc.
The report’s release was part of Child Rights Education Week and also in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
“Over the past 30 years, advocates for the rights of children have worked towards substantial progress,” said Child, Youth and Seniors’ Advocate Norman Bossé. “However, many challenges linger to ensure all 54 Articles of the UNCRC are upheld.”
Bossé noted some improvements.
“The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, highlighting the devastating impact language loss has on Indigenous rights and culture,” he said. “We see in the New Brunswick data how critically endangered First Nations languages are. But there is hope in the fact that, in our province, a significantly higher percentage of Indigenous youth view learning about their culture as important compared to non-Indigenous youth.”
“It is also very heartening to see that the number of incarcerated youths continues to drop, and also that a new Department of Public Safety policy reverses the practice of Sheriff Services handcuffing and shackling all youth in transport,” said Bossé. “Now it is allowed only if it is justifiable in exceptional circumstances.”
“Still, more work needs to be done, especially in relation to the troubling situations that are evident in the data for youth in poverty,” he said.
The report contains an overview of some of the serious challenges facing New Brunswick children and youth, including more than 200 statistics presented in the report’s Child Rights Indicators Framework. Bossé said this data is part of the information the provincial government needs to make informed decisions to ensure it is helping all young people, and especially the most disadvantaged.
The report includes a special emphasis on Articles 28 and 29 of the UNCRC, with a focus on the Right to Education for all. It recommends that the province provide the full protection of the UNCRC in law, in practice, and especially for children in school.
“By providing a forum for young participants and stakeholders during this event, to discuss the government’s Green Paper and the concept of Rights Respecting Schools, our office is encouraging children’s inherent right to be heard in any decisions that affect them, recognized in Article 12 of UNCRC,” said Bossé. “Over the years, the success of Rights Respecting Schools models, implemented in other jurisdictions, have shown proven results in developing children and youth who feel safe, respected and engaged in school. The government should aim to apply this model for the benefit of all New Brunswick children and youth.”
Bossé also invited the government to continue to build on the improvements made to protect and respect the rights of children and youth, while carefully examining the data within this report.
Some of the concerning findings revealed in the report include:
“Despite these findings, I am optimistic, and applaud the accomplishments of our government. However, we all have an obligation to our children to shed light on obstacles that need to be overcome,” said Bossé.
Child Rights Education Week in Canada is held from Nov. 17 to 23. This annual week aims to celebrate and promote the rights of children and youth and encourage activities to expand Canadians’ knowledge and understanding of children’s rights.