Published: 24 Jan 2023
EHRC report to the UN raises concerns with education for children in Britain
Urgent action is needed to improve protections for children in Britain, according to a report to the United Nations from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The report outlines the state of children’s rights in Britain and forms part of the UN’s system for monitoring the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that the UK signed in 1991.
Published on the International Day of Education, the EHRC report urges the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to review areas of concern, including the lost learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with recommendations made to the UK and Welsh governments, including to address data gaps, particularly in Wales.
The report also highlights the importance of tackling online abuse of children, which an estimated four in ten children are exposed to1, with children spending even more time online during the pandemic.
The EHRC calls on the UK Government to ensure that children are protected from harassment and abuse online through the Online Safety Bill currently in Parliament, while preserving their rights to accessible information and digital connectivity.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:
“Children deserve to flourish and live their lives to the full. The International Day of Education is a time to celebrate their potential.
“Unfortunately, our report to the UN shows that too many children in Britain are still suffering the impact of the pandemic, including through lost learning opportunities, and that existing inequalities have been made worse. They are also increasingly at risk of abuse or harassment online.
“Poor mental health, disrupted education and online abuse are all issues the UK and Welsh governments must address to ensure our children’s rights remain protected. Upholding the UK’s treaty commitments to the rights of the child will empower the next generation to build the better future for Britain that we all want to see.”
Notes to editors
The EHRC is the UN-accredited National Human Rights Institution for England and Wales, and for Scotland in all matters reserved to the UK Government. It has been given the highest ‘A’ status by the UN for its adherence to agreed principles to promote and protect human rights. As part of its role, the EHRC contributes regularly to UN reviews, monitoring the progress of human rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international human rights treaty that requires signatories to consider the best interests of the child when doing anything that affects children, protecting their rights in all areas of their life. The UK has been a signatory to this UN treaty since 1991. The EHRC has periodically reported progress in the implementation of this treaty since the organisation was established by the Equality Act 2006.
The full report sets out the issues raised by the EHRC and the recommendations to the UK and Welsh governments to make faster progress towards implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The EHRC recommendations in this report are addressed to the UK and Welsh governments, though they may also be relevant to other devolved administrations.
This report builds on an initial EHRC report to the UN submitted in November 2020.