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Petitions

Volume 600: debated on Friday 16 October 2015

Petition

Friday 16 October 2015

Observations

Education

Ending violence against children

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the petitioners support Unicef’s campaign to end violence against children; further that the petitioners note that not all children have the opportunity to speak and therefore need people to speak for them; and further that Minehead Middle School recently held a campaign day on this subject and 200 pupils signed postcards calling for action.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to support Unicef’s campaign and to commit to working to end violence against children now.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, Official Report, 7 July 2015; Vol. 598, c. 292.]

[P001531]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

It is a fundamental right that children and young people are protected from abuse and neglect.

We applaud the petitioners’ support for UNICEF’s campaign to end violence against children. The campaign covers a broad range of child abuse and neglect, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, in addition to violence.

We are also pleased that 200 pupils at Minehead Middle School signed postcards calling for action following a campaign day on this issue in June. This action shows clearly that they are against what is happening to children all around the world. Raising awareness of global issues like this is an important part of encouraging children to become active, responsible citizens who allow their voices to be heard.

The petitioners may be interested to note that at a parliamentary reception earlier this year, many parliamentarians offered support for UNICEF’s campaign. We also published updated statutory guidance on how services should work together and take action to protect children from abuse and neglect, working together to safeguard children, in March 2015.

The petitioners may also wish to note that tackling child abuse and neglect is already at the heart of the Government’s agenda. In July, the Prime Minister announced a ministerial taskforce, chaired by the Secretary of State for Education, to take forward work on child protection.

The Government are committed to doing all that they can to reform the system of child protection in England to better protect children and young people against all forms of abuse and neglect; child sexual abuse has been prioritised as a national threat and there are major reforms aimed at driving improvements in the social care response to abuse by improving the quality of front-line social work practice.

In September, in New York, along with other UN member states, we adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs). These are a new, universal set of goals and targets, that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. Under goal five—achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls—there is a target on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. Under goal 16—promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels—there is a target to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

The SDGs will become applicable from January 2016. The deadline for achieving the SDGs is 2030.