More help needed for children

20th October 2000 at 01:00
Children must have a say in decisions affecting their lives, says a manifesto published by leading children's charities. The document, Our Children, Their Future also demands:

* Children's commissioners for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

* A Cabinet Minister for Children.

* Better access to services for disadvantaged children, including more financial support.

* "Child well-being indicators" giving systematic and regular analysis of the state of children in the UK.

The UK has the worst child poverty in Europe and the highest rate of teenage pregnancy. The charities, led by Barnardo's, the NSPCC and the Child Poverty Action Group, say tey welcome recent government initiatives, such as the working families tax credit, but more must be done.

On the education front they call for:

* Training for all teachers on child protection, children's rights, special needs, child welfare and emotional development.

* Independent counselling and peer support schemes in every school.

* A statutory duty for schools to set up school councils.

* Full-time education for excluded pupils.

* Access to a broad curriculum for children with special needs.

Copies of Our Children, Their Future are available from Barnardo's, tel: 020 8550 8822 and Child Poverty Action Group, tel: 020 7837 7979

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