Manitoba Daily

Monday, December 6, 2021

Advocates say there is still more work to be done to protect children’s rights

Key takeaways:

  • Two youth advocates stated on National Child Day that there is still work to be done in Manitoba, and across the country to protect children’s rights.

This National Child Day, two youth advocates said there is still work to be done in Manitoba — and around the country — to protect the rights of kids.

Through the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, members of the Youth Ambassador Advisory Squad are teaching children about their rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child.

That job is crucial for Cherice Liebrecht.

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“Knowing your rights is essential for youngsters because it provides them vocabulary and affirmation of how they should and shouldn’t be treated,” Liebrecht said in an interview with Stephanie Cram on CBC Manitoba’s Weekend Morning Show on Saturday.

“It empowers children to know that they have the right to speak up and say, ‘This is what I need,’ and to collaborate with adults who have a responsibility to meet those needs.”

Cleche Kokolo, another member of the squad, believes it is equally critical to speak out to decision-makers.

Mental health and well-being are important topics to her.

“I think a worldwide pandemic has emphasised the need and need for mental health services in the community, and more especially mental health services for adolescents that are… youth-driven, and put youth at the centre of how mental health professionals give resources,” she explained.

Corporal punishment

According to campaigners, one of the essential rights for children — the right to bodily integrity and protection from physical harm — is still not honoured in Canada.

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates is urging the Canadian government to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which allows teachers, parents, or anyone acting in the place of a parent to use corporal punishment “if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.”

According to the group, Canada lags behind other countries because it has upheld the Declaration on the Child’s Rights for 30 years while allowing corrective disciplining of children, two seemingly contradictory things.

“Children have not had the same protections against the violence that adults take for granted,” the council stated in a news statement issued on Wednesday.

Liebrecht and Kokolo also oppose this portion.

“I think it’s absurd that there is any loophole in our country that still allows people to hit children,” Liebrecht remarked.

“We must ensure that the Criminal Code and any other kind of legislation put children first and that children are always safeguarded,” Kokolo continued.

“When it comes to spanking, that is not the case; therefore, that must change, and it must change right now.”

Source: CBC News

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