UN criticises UK’s lack of support for disabled children

The United Nations has strongly criticised the treatment of disabled children in the UK and calls on the government to take action to provide better support.

The United Nations committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has published a highly critical report on the UK’s treatment of disabled children and young people. Among concerns raised by the Committee is about the use of restraint on disabled young people in the youth justice system. It also highlights an increase in incidents of bullying, hate speech and hate crimes against disabled children. It says there is ineffective monitoring of bullying against disabled children in school and no legal duty to ensure adequate childcare for them out of school.

The committee is further concerned that there is no government policy to address the level of poverty among families with disabled children. Its report on the UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by the UK in June 2009, is particularly concerned that children with hearing impairments are missing out on support. It has called for more funding to help parents, classmates and teachers of deaf children to learn sign language.

“Devastating critique”

The committee also wants to see greater inclusion within education for disabled children, expressing concern at the rising number of children with disabilities being educated outside mainstream schools. “The education system is not geared to respond to the requirements for high-quality inclusive education,” it says.

Carolyne Willow, director of children’s rights group Article 39, has called on the government to move quickly to address the concerns raised by the report. “The UN body on disability rights has issued a devastating critique of the myriad of ways in which disabled children and young people are held back, excluded and punished,” she said.

“We know, for example”, Willow continued, “that children who have learning disabilities and difficulties disproportionately end up in prison where physical restraint and segregation are typically the automatic response for dealing with their profound distress and anxiety. With the UK due to submit a report within 12 months on the steps it has taken to implement the UN body’s recommendations, the government must act quickly to remedy these grave human rights violations.”

Adrian Voce

Main photo: Every Disabled Child Matters
Inset Photo: Children and Young People Now

Author: Adrian Voce

President of the European Network for Child Friendly Cities

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