Policymakers Threaten UK Children’s Right to Play, says New UN Report

  • Posted on Jun 16, 2016

The latest report by the Committee on the Rights of the Child [1] the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, adopted by the Committee at its seventy-second session (17 May -3 June 2016)paints a damning picture of respect for children’s rights by UK law and policy makers, including the right to play [2].

The Committee monitors implementation of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child by ratifying governments.  Its latest report highlights serious concerns about the impact of UK government austerity measures on ‘children’s enjoyment of their rights’, citing children from disadvantaged situations as being ‘disproportionately affected’.   

The continued lack of measures to address ‘intolerance of childhood’ is slammed by the Committee, which raises deep concerns that children’s views are not being heard by those developing policies that impact children’s lives.   Children’s right to play is wholly undermined, the report says, by:

  • The government’s withdrawal of a play policy for England;
  • Insufficient provision of spaces and facilities for play and leisure, particularly those accessible to children with disabilities or from disadvantaged communities;
  • A lack of public spaces where teenagers can socialise;
  • The underfunding of play and leisure policies in the devolved nations.  

The Committee reserves praise for the Welsh government for its adoption of a play policy and integration of ‘children’s right to play systematically in relevant legislation and other relevant policies’.  

API Chair Mark Hardy says: “The committee’s intense scrutiny of UK government commitment to honour the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child makes for gloomy reading.  Its latest report is a damning reflection of the lack of priority given to children’s lives – particularly those that most need state support – by policymakers.  If there was ever a chance to make good on the failings of protecting children’s right to play highlighted in this report, it is with the government’s forthcoming national strategy on obesity.  Without high quality places for children in every community to play, there is little opportunity for them to be physically active.”    

The Association of Play Industries (API) campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition of the value and benefits of play.   

[1] http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/GBR/CO/5&Lang=En: the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, adopted by the Committee at its seventy-second session (17 May -3 June 2016).    

[2] Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states “That every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.“

For further information about the Association of Play Industries, contact:  Deborah Holt, API Association Manager, tel: 024 7641 4999 or email [email protected]