Children

Protests against child marriage in Iraq

An Iraqi court has resumed hearing a case in which a judge was asked to formalise a religious wedding between a 12-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. The court, located in Baghdad’s Kadhamiya district, adjourned the case last week amidst demonstrations. Demonstrators had been chanting “No to child marriage” and “Marrying children is a crime against children”. The case caught national attention when the girl’s mother — in a video on social media — called on authorities to save her daughter. She told local media her daughter had been raped and forced into a marriage to her stepfather’s brother...

Abolish GCSEs, turn the tide on toxic testing

Over the last ten years Workers’ Liberty school workers have been at the forefront of pushing the debate about testing in schools in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and in its successor the National Education Union (NEU). In 2019 we wrote a motion passed at the NEU’s national conference which committed the union to an indicative ballot of members to boycott the statutory tests in primary schools. The ballot result was strong, but sadly not built upon. Last year, we wrote a motion, passed with amendments, that committed the union to call for the abolition of GCSEs. On 23 October Joint...

Structural problems and child abuse

Matthew Thompson writes (Solidarity 611) that my article criticises the “report into clerical abuse in France” on the grounds that it doesn’t call for the “far-reaching reforms demanded by some campaigners such as the ordination of women as priests or the abolition of clerical celibacy” That was not necessarily the intention of what was quite a flat and neutral factual account. It merely noted that “some campaigners” had demanded measures such as “the ordination of women as priests or the abolition of clerical celibacy” and that these recommendations were not included in the final report. It...

What to do on clerical abuse

I was a bit surprised to see Micheál MacEoin (“New evidence on Catholic Church and child abuse”, Solidarity 610) criticise the report into clerical abuse in France on the grounds that it doesn’t call for the “far-reaching reforms demanded by some campaigners such as the ordination of women as priests or the abolition of clerical celibacy”. How would that stop paedophiles being ordained as priests and gaining access to children, any more than it has in religious groups which have done those things, like the Church of England, or in other areas where widespread abuse has taken place over decades...

In defence of "Gillick competence" on blockers

The decision in the Gillick case allowed doctors to decide when children were able to consent to medical treatment. Doctors are also generally trusted to decide which treatments would be of benefit to their patients. In the case of puberty blockers, the practice established by the NHS specifies that both the child and the parents must consent to treatment. Jack McDonough (Solidarity 608) argues that in defending the idea that children can consent to medical treatment including puberty blockers (Gillick competence), I am also proposing that under 16s should be able to consent to sexual...

"Blockers" and age of consent

The article by Angela Driver welcoming the Court of Appeal’s overturning of the Tavistock vs Bell judgement (Solidarity 607 ) is headed “A win for teenagers’ rights” and states that the decision “is good news for young trans people under 18.” In fact, the decision applies to children under the age of 16 who are struggling with their identity and considering gender reassignment. I have to say that I have serious doubts about the Court of Appeal’s decision and think the judges in the Tavistock vs Bell case made a good point when they said there would be enormous difficulties for young children...

It's class inequality that blights school

The Tory-dominated Education select committee released a report, The Forgotten: How white working class pupils have been let down, on 22 June. The main conclusion of the report should have been: poor students are disadvantaged at school and New Labour and Tory education “reforms” coupled with cuts, austerity and increasing inequality in the UK have made matters worse. Labour members of the committee commented, “The evidence we received clearly indicated that the main determining factors of poor educational outcomes were class and regional inequalities caused by more than a decade of austerity...

Further cuts in SEND provision

Many councils across the country — the National Audit Office estimates over two dozen — are negotiating with the government for bailouts to make it possible to balance their 2021-22 budgets. Cuts in school special needs and disabilities (SEND) spending are among those demanded “in return” by at least five councils. Details for Bury, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond-upon Thames and Stoke on Trent have been published on the Department for Education website and reported by Schools Week. Some councils now promise to meet special needs in a “more cost-effective way within...

Calling out Compass

Images of free-school-meal-substitute “hampers” flooded across social media in mid-January, and very quickly the story was picked up by the mainstream media. Tweeter @RoadsideMum had received her “hamper” as the parent of two children. Supposedly enough to last ten days, it wouldn’t have sustained a hungry teenager for more than about fifteen minutes. Other families started to photograph their “hampers”. Half a tomato wrapped in cellophane. Half a tin of tuna in a money bag. Chartwells bill the government £30 per hamper. A quick trip to Asda online priced the contents at slightly under £5.50...

Back to school: workers' control to make it safe

The government has a campaign to persuade parents that it will be safe to send children back to schools in England in September, following the return in Scotland on 11 August. Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government, says, reasonably, that it is important that all children are in school and that “the chances of children dying from Covid-19 are incredibly small.” Whitty added that there are no risk-free options but that children would suffer much more from long-term health and mental health problems by remaining out of school than from dangers associated from Covid-19. That is...

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