Friday, January 21, 2011

Safety Welfare Protection & Rights of Children

Some of the ideas that I would like to see a new Government advance in the interests of the Safety Welfare Protection & Rights of Children

Hold the Children’s Rights Referendum preferably with a wording as close as possible to that published by Joint Oireachtas Committee in February 2010.

Introduce legislation to put the Children First Guidelines on a statutory basis with failure to comply being a criminal offence and also introduce system of independent inspection of audit and compliance with Children First Guidelines.

Remove responsibility for the Child Care System from the HSE and have that service reformed and delivered by people working under the aegis of Minister for Children.

Empowering children with knowledge, confidence and language is an important part of the child protection process. The STAY SAFE and SPHE programmes within schools are a significant part of this.

• All teachers should receive a basic SPHE pre-service training as all teachers are involved in social and personal education of young people.

• There should be a module in the SPHE programme dedicated specifically to Child Safety, Welfare and Protection at post-primary level.

• Children’s knowledge of SPHE should be assessed regularly.

There is urgent need for Garda Vetting of people working with children to be extended to facilitate the passing on of soft information, organisations working with or providing services to children have called for this to be done for many years but to no avail.

Parents and Guardians should be able to register a concern with authorities about any individual who has access to their children about whom they are genuinely worried. In some cases it should be possible for them to be told if such an individual is a known sex offender or not. This measure is already being rolled out in the UK, having being piloted to great effect; the pilot scheme in four counties saw one in ten calls to police uncover evidence of a criminal past. Out of 315 applications for information from concerned parents, details of 21 paedophiles were revealed. These were sex offenders known to the authorities who were putting themselves in a position of having access to children again, and they were stopped because those parents could register their concerns and access this information.

Review the In Camera rule in respect of court proceedings under the Child Care Act 1991. This rule was intended to protect children but instead protects a system which fails them.

Sex offenders who have served their sentences are generally released into the community without supervision, though some may be under the supervision of the Probation Service. There is an urgent need for changes to this system to be made ...

• A multi-agency approach to the support and monitoring of released offenders must be developed along with a more stringent regime of signing on procedures with regular personal visits to Garda stations by released offenders.

• Secondly, those responsible for monitoring sex offenders should have the powers and the resources to make regular unannounced visits to the homes of released sex offenders.

• Thirdly, monitoring of sex offenders should include electronic tagging, curfews and other restrictions, for example an offender who only ever abuses children after he/she has taken alcohol should have it as a condition of their release that they don’t consume alcohol.

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