James

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In Uncategorized on January 29, 2008 at 10:37 am

Discrimination (still too long)

“If the Prime Minister lived my life for a week, he would find that he is constantly victimized just for being a young person. He would find that instead of walking into a shopping centre proud to be a world leader, he would instead be frowned upon by the world as a troublemaker and potential shoplifter. He would find that instead of being go where he wants, when he wants, that he is restricted by signs saying “no more than one child at any time”. At this point he’d think to himself, if that sign said “no more than one gay at any time”, or “no more than one old person at any time”, that it would be against the law.” (Male 17, Lincolnshire).

At a recent seminar about human rights and equality hosted by CRAE (The Children’s Rights Alliance for England), a group of children and young people gave examples of young people being treated unfairly. Age discrimination takes many forms and adults treat young people in ways that just wouldn’t be tolerated by other sectors of society, from being refused an ambulance because an adult wasn’t present when a young person was taken ill late at night, to being banned from a supermarket café if in school uniform, or in shops, simply not being served before adults.
This point was also made by the chair of the Equality and Diversity Forum, Sarah Spencer, who spoke at the same event about what the government should do about discrimination and rights for children. There are two things she felt we should be campaignng for:
Age GFS (goods facilities and services) First, that people of all ages should be protected from age discrimination when buying goods or receiving services – just as they already are protected from discrimination on grounds of their race, disability, gender, religion or belief and sexual orientation.
(the law would allow more favourable treatment, like subsidised public transport, for children and older people).
Planning for the future Secondly, Public bodies like councils should think about the potential impact on children or young person, and consult with them while they are still making plans
What this would mean is that, in planning any future services, each organisation would have to think about the potential impact on children, and to consult children in the process. Then the organisation would have to take that into account before making decisions.
If they had a duty to consider the impact on children in all those areas, and to give children a voice, some services, at least, would become more sensitive to their needs and more effective in addressing them. So that’s a goal really worth campaigning for.
But there was an even more important issue, that of adult’s attitudes to children. A change in the law may help, but this where young people can make a difference, by challenging adult’s attitudes and broadcasting what children and young people are doing every day to make their own lives and those of others better.
School Councils can take a lead on this, by making sure that what they achieve is broadcast far and wide throughout the school community, so every student can take pride in being a young person that has so much to contribute.
++++++++++++++++++ INSET
Conceptions of children
To caricature the current situation, the child moves through Whitehall growing and shrinking like Alice: in the Department of Health she is a small potential victim, at the Treasury and Department of Education a growing but silent unit of investment, but at the Home Office a huge and threatening yob. Of course these are stereotypes; but they resonate, because there is some truth in them.”
(Helen Seaford TCS)

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