Month: June 2018

“It’ll tell you everything”

rights4children-logo-web

A brilliant new website for children and young people living in institutions goes live at 4pm today.

Called rights4children, the site is packed with information about children’s rights, on topics important to them. It has been created by Article 39 working with the web design company Wholegrain Digital.

Forty-eight children and young people, aged between 10 and 20 years, gave expert advice on the content and design of rights4children.

Children and young people living in Lincolnshire secure unit and William Henry Smith residential school were closely involved in the development of the site for several months.

Ten year-old Bailey said:

“Go and check the website, it’ll tell you everything”.

Erson said:

“It would have been useful to have a website like this when I first arrived at my secure children’s home”.

“I think the information in this website would allow me to make better choices if I felt I was being unfairly treated” added Tyler.

Content is organised into four sections – ‘Your life, your feelings’‘Where you live’‘When things are difficult’ and ‘Moving and leaving’ – and covers a wide variety of children and young people’s concerns, from pets, to privacy, to food and special diets, to restraint and use of force and making a complaint.

The site launches with stories of six adults who spent time in institutions as children. They reflect on what helped them get through tough times. This part of the site was added after many children and young people communicated they want to have hope that life can get better for them.

David Hunt from Wholegrain Digital said:

“The visual design aims for a warm and caring environment whilst keeping the mood positive, fun and engaging for all age groups. We are so pleased to have worked with Article 39 to bring a simple-to-use website to the children who need it the most.”

Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, said:

“Children who live in group settings have the right to a great childhood, where they feel loved, respected and proud of who they are and their achievements. But life can be really tough for many children living away from home, and rights4children aims to be there for them – telling them about their rights and where they can get help. We’re hoping adults will use the site too, because there can never be too many people standing up for the rights of children.”

Notes

  1. The site can be found at www.rights4children.org.uk
  2. A young person detained in Cookham Wood young offender institution came up with the site’s name.
  3. Our site would not have been possible without the expert advice of children and young people, and support from adults who look after them. THANK YOU. A full roll of honour can be found on the site.
  4. Article 39 is very grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Bromley Trust who fund our work.

Action taken on child’s note – nearly 14 years on

On 8 August 2004, 14 year-old Adam Rickwood was found hanging in his cell in a child prison run by Serco.

In addition to a note for his family, asking to be buried with his grandad, Adam left behind a statement explaining that officers had deliberately swiped his nose, and that he bled for nearly an hour.

Adam asked the officers what gave them the right to hit a child in the nose.

Today, nearly 14 years later, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) set out its plans for a new type of locked institution – the secure school.

The MoJ document says pain-inducing restraint will not be permitted.

The ‘nose distraction’ inflicted on Adam was an officially authorised restraint technique. It was withdrawn three years later from the privately-run secure training centres, and from all child prisons in 2010/11. But other pain-inducing restraint has continued.

Article 39 has been campaigning to end pain-inducing restraint since we first set up as a charity. With the backing of nearly 200 donors, we have been threatening to take the Ministry of Justice to court to get the authorisation of pain-inducing restraint lifted during children’s journeys to and from secure children’s homes. We believed we were on firm ground since the Department for Education prohibits pain-inducing restraint within secure children’s homes.

Today’s publication indicates the government department in charge of child prisons has finally conceded that allowing and training those who look after children to deliberately inflict severe pain as a form of restraint is unjustified.

Adam’s statement was published by the Guardian newspaper in June 2007.

Adam Rickwood's statement