Building child safe communities with children and young people at their hearts
Through a critical appraisal we have demonstrated the contribution that child-rights based legislation, children’s advocacy and research into child health topics can collectively play in improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the UK and globally. Legislation and Regulations introduced by the Parliaments, together with common law, sets out what is lawful and unlawful in the UK; children’s rights need to be promoted and protected to give the best possible present and future to young people; and child health can only be improved to the maximum potential with optimal overarching child welfare. It is only when the laws in a society properly protect children and young people, there is advocacy on a micro- and macro- basis by healthcare professionals and members of the community, and when there is a focus on child-health a micro- and macro-level, that the health and wellbeing of children and young people will be optimised.
Improving the lives of children and young people, both in the UK and on a global basis, requires a coordinated focus on innovations in the three inextricably linked areas: children’s advocacy; pragmatic child health research; and legislation underpinning children’s rights.
With a clinical, community and research focus on these three areas, truly child-safe communities can be created in which children and young people can develop and flourish happily, healthily and safe from harm. That novel model, describing the interaction between children’s advocacy, health and law in communities where there is integrated and optimised health and social wellbeing as a core component, also has the potential to have impact in the future. With a clinical, community and research focus on children’s advocacy, health and law, and if all of those communities have a common aim (to protect children, who are of course the future of the adult members of the global human race), a global society with integrated and optimised health and social wellbeing will be created in which children and young people can develop and flourish: happily, healthily and safe from harm.
Through international collaborative research involving colleagues in the UK, Australia, the USA and Cambodia we have made recommendations for:
- Protecting children’s rights during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Ensuring the rights of children are protected and promoted when parents, or those close to them, are dying with COVID-19
- Unlocking children’s voices during pandemic lockdowns
- The introduction of equal protection for children and ending the defence of reasonable chastisement in the UK, USA and Australia (in effect editing legislation to prohibit physical punishment of children in the future). We are delighted to have contributed to the Scottish and Welsh Government consultations on the legislative change that was introduced in Scotland and Wales to ensure children have equal protection (from assault) as adults enjoy.
Team: Professor Andrew Rowland, Professor Tony Long, Dianne Cook, Professor Felicity Gerry (external)
Contact:Professor Andrew Rowland