Great Britain

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CountryGreat Britain
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal punishment is prohibited in all settings in Scotland and Wales. Prohibition is still to be achieved at home, some alternative care settings, day care and penal institutions in England and Northern Ireland.
Overview of the child rights situation

The fiscal policy and withdrawal from the European union have effects contributing to inequality in children’s enjoyment of their rights and child poverty. Discrimination on the grounds of their age is mentioned. Public has a negative attitude towards children and especially adolescents. They try everything to keep young people out of public life. Especially Northern Ireland stands out with various problems concerning education or health.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenThe Committee is concerned about medically unnecessary surgeries and other procedures on intersex children before they are able to provide their informed consent. The Committee therefore recommends to the state party to educate medical and psychological professionals on the range of sexual and related biological and physical diversity and on the consequences of unnecessary interventions for intersex children.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

Great Britain’s courts can issue protection orders to protect potential or actual child victims of female genital mutilation. But there is still a significant number of children who are affected by female genital mutilation. Also, Great Britain has a high prevalence of gender-based violence against women and girls. In addition to that, in Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal in all cases.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenThe rate of child poverty remains high. Child poverty disproportionately affects households with many children and children belonging to ethnic minority groups the most.
Situation of children with disabilities

Children with disabilities do not see that their views are given weight in making personal decisions in their life. Many children with disabilities are still segregated and attend special schools.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenIn Scotland, adequate and culturally sensitive accommodation for Roma, gypsy and traveller children remains insufficient. In 2010, the detention of children for immigration purposes ended. Not all unaccompanied children have access to an independent guardian or legal advice.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
Digital possibilitiesCyberbullying is a widespread problem, particularly against structural discriminated children.
physical health

The Committee recommends to focus on eliminating inequalities in health outcome and in access to health service. The committee is concerned that there has reportedly been a significant increase in the prescription of psychostimulants and psychotropic drugs to children with behavioural problems, including for children under 6 years of age. The rate of teenage pregnancies is still higher than the average for the European Union, and higher in more deprived areas.

Relation to other countries
mental health

Significant efforts are undertaken at the national and the devolved levels to improve mental health services. The number of children with mental health needs is nevertheless increasing across the State party, including those related to alcohol, drug and substance abuse. The number of child suicides has been increasing in Northern Ireland.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee is concerned at the high level of air pollution, which directly affects child health in the State party and contributes to the negative impact of climate change affecting various rights of the child.

Business sector

The Committee recommends to integrate and explicitly focus on children’s rights and establish regulations to ensure that the business sector complies with the rights of the child.

Situation of juvenile justice

The overall number of children in custody remains high.

The police in Northern Ireland use tasers and energy projectiles against children. Also, children face violence there, including shootings, carried out by non-State actors involved in paramilitary-style attacks, and recruitment by such non-State actors.
The Committee furthermore recommends to ensure that child detainees are separated from adults in all detention settings and that children are not tried by adult courts.
In addition to that, the Committee is seriously concerned that children who are victims or witnesses of crimes have to appear in court to be cross examined.

Specific observations

The Committee is concerned that the powers of the Commissioners for Northern Ireland and Wales are still limited and that the Commissioner for Scotland has not started exercising. The right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration is still not reflected in all legislative and policy matters and judicial decisions affecting children. The Committee notes increasing demands from children for a right to vote from the age of 16 years. The Committee is concerned that pupils are required by law to take part in a daily religious worship which is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”. Due to insufficient cooperation between the courts and the child protection authorities, parents are sentenced to imprisonment and directly incarcerated while their children are left alone without proper care.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the fifth periodic reports released on 12 July 2016. The United Kingdom has reservations on these Articles: Article 22 to the Cayman Islands, Article 32 to all its dependent territories, except Pitcairn, Article 37 (c) to all its dependent territories.

Last Updated (date)15th of February, 2022