Children are people with rights and they deserve better from everyone! We are failing them. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.
Chidren’s views should be solicited at all “critical junctures” — investigations, risk assessments, care plan development, home visits and when their files are being sent elsewhere or closing, jurors recommended.
Katelynn’s school, and every school in the province, should teach children about their human rights, the jurors said. It should be included in the curriculum every year, from kindergarten until Grade 12, with things like their right to safety, food, to attend school regularly (Katelynn missed 34 full days of Grade 2, plus 16 half-days before Irving yanked her out in May) and to see a doctor or nurse when they are hurt. (Her guardians never took Katelynn to a doctor, despite the terrible pain she must have endured. She had cracked ribs, bones, teeth and a lobe of her liver had broken off from a blunt force the forensic pathologist compared to a car crash.)
The jury even suggested the rights of children, as outline by the UN, be printed in every child’s school agenda, along with the phone numbers for Kids Help line and the Student Safety Line.
That’s a great idea. In fact, most of these recommendations seem embarrassingly obvious. Who is our child welfare system for, if not children?
But, as Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, said outside the coroner’s courthouse, these recommendations are “revolutionary.”
We adults have a hard time remembering children are people. We still think of them as our property. We don’t want teachers telling them about sex or gay rights, and we don’t want child protection workers talking to them beyond our controlling sightlines.
All that has to change, Elman said. He called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to launch a provincial conversation about revamping our child welfare system, top to bottom.
“Today I hope Katelynn . . . becomes a turning point for our province.”