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Childhood is a precious time; children must be protected and their rights promoted to ensure that they are consistently treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Children in care are children who are not living with their immediate families but are in the care of the State. This includes those in residential care, foster care and special care. There are over 6,000 children in care each presenting with their own needs. Therefore we need a child centred, comprehensive child protection service with sufficient supports and professionals to assist these children through childhood and into adulthood.
Children are often the forgotten victims of domestic abuse. Witnessing violence in the home can have a devastating impact on a child’s emotional health and their ability to form healthy relationships in the future.
The Domestic Violence Act 2018, which Barnardos actively lobbied on, finally recognises and criminalises the coercive and controlling nature of domestic abuse and will provide vital protections for children and families. It will further ensure children’s voices are heard in court cases that relate to them.
The passing of the Children’s Referendum to insert Article 42A into the constitution in November 2012 and its adoption in April 2015 was a societal statement that all children deserve to be better protected, respected and heard. While its impact is most likely to be felt by children who are in need of protection, those in care and those who are affected by separation or family break-down, it will also have a significant impact in society. It can’t and won’t fix all ills but it will have a positive influence on how children are treated in the courts, in the home, in the services they access and more generally in society as people come to see children as individual rights holder.
Barnardos continues to lobby the Government to ensure subsequent legislation flowing from the Constitutional change sufficiently protects and prioritises children's rights and needs.