UNICEF Canada

UNICEF Canada

November 20, 2007 08:00 ET

Too Many Children Still Left Out Eighteen Years After Children's Rights Convention Adopted: UNICEF Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2007) - A new study that examines the state of children's rights in Canada, 18 years after the adoption of the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child, points to the urgent need for stronger legislation, a targeted national children's plan, and a national Children's Commissioner to ensure the rights and well-being of Canadian children are protected.

The report by UNICEF Canada, "What's Rights for Some: A portrait of Canada's first generation growing up under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," has been released today in conjunction with National Child Day in Canada.

"Compared with other industrialized countries, our children are suffering from unacceptable rates of poverty, obesity, mental illness and violence that have persisted or increased since Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991," said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO, UNICEF Canada.

Released on the eighteenth birthday of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the report provides a snapshot of what it's like to be 18 in Canada- the vanguard of the first generation of children born with its own set of guaranteed universal rights.

Key findings in the report indicate progress in some areas and many promising initiatives, such as equitable education, improved child protection and health care including immunizations and breastfeeding support. However, much of the progress for children varies across the provinces and initiatives tend to be fragmented and short-term.

The report highlights that child poverty in some areas has persisted at the same high rates for an entire generation. The report further indicates that Canada has very high rates of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems relative to other industrialized countries.

Aboriginal children are one of the most vulnerable populations in Canada, facing enormous challenges. Overall, the poverty rate for Aboriginal children is close to three times that of other Canadian children. As well, children in some remote Aboriginal communities lack access to adequate housing, clean water and quality education. In addition, Aboriginal children are disproportionately represented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

"There is absolutely no doubt that we can improve the situation of Canadian children," Fisher said. "We can do it with solid political leadership; a comprehensive legal framework to ensure the rights of children; a sustainable and well-resourced national plan of action with clear and measurable targets; and a focal point for children at the federal level."

UNICEF Canada is recommending immediate action including the establishment of a national Children's Commissioner. To sign a petition on UNICEF Canada's Web site calling for a Children's Commissioner, go to www.unicef.ca/18at18. "What's Rights for Some: A portrait of Canada's first generation growing up under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," is also available at www.unicef.ca/18at18.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. In industrialized countries, UNICEF works to raise national awareness on children's rights and advocates for child friendly laws, policies and programmes. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights for children - civil, cultural, economic, political and social. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention addressing their vulnerability, status and evolving capacities, and their rights to the fullest respect and dignity as human beings. Today, there are more than 2.2 billion children whose rights are recognized by 192 countries.

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