UNICEF welcomes new initiative but emphasizes importance of mentioning children's rights
MONTREAL, Feb. 17, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - UNICEF applauds Sunday's announcement by the Quebec Government that it is implementing new measures to reduce school bullying and violence.
"I think we all agree that this is a step in the right direction for addressing the problems of bullying and violence among young people," said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. "What makes this initiative even more welcome is that it supports several actions that UNICEF has been advocating for a number of years. Those actions, including UNICEF's Rights Respecting Schools program, are based on violence prevention and a culture of respect for others."
"It is unfortunate that children's rights are not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the materials or communications issued by the government. UNICEF firmly believes that a children's rights framework is essential in any anti-bullying and violence prevenion initiative targeted towards children. UNICEF's Rights Respecting Schools program is an example of this. When children know they have the right to not be subjected to discrimination or violence, they understand that other children and adults also have this right. Children then understand they must act accordingly resulting in improved relationships and behaviour," said Morley.
Rights Respecting Schools, a UNICEF initiative
UNICEF Canada's Rights Respecting Schools Program is a holistic education program. It uses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to develop a culture of inclusiveness and respect in elementary schools and promotes meaningful participation and active citizenship among students.
Children in Rights Respecting Schools have a more positive experience at school. Research in the United Kingdom has shown that Rights Respecting Schools see decreased bullying, a reduction in prejudices, improved rates of attendance and improved student self esteem and engagement in learning. Teachers also report improved job satisfaction.
UNICEF Canada's Rights Respecting School Program is the only program of its kind in Canada. Following the national launch in 2011, a growing number of schools across the country are participating with the program currently reaching 2,300 children.
A first school in Quebec
The Rights Respecting Schools program is now in Quebec: Westmount Park School, part of the English-Montreal School Board, is in the initial phase of implementation of the program. The program will also soon be implemented in French-language schools across the province. "Several faculty members have already started to integrate child rights into their teaching, but I would say that the students' enthusiasm is our major motivator in moving forward. We can already see how, by becoming a Rights Respecting School, we will be able to intervene to prevent bullying and violence," said school principal Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette.
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.
For further information:
Or to arrange an interview with Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette, principal of Westmount Park School, or Hélène Moïse, manager of the UNICEF Global Classroom program in Quebec, please contact:
Isabelle Fortin, Communications Specialist
Phone: 514 288-5134 ext. 8425
Email: [email protected]