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Concerns for children in institutions

Video with Nigel Cantwell in which he talks about the concerns of children being placed in residential institutions
Hi, my name is Gary Patterson. I’m a care experience student at the University of Strathclyde and I’m active in campaigns and politics around the issues of young people and students. And so I guess the first question I’d like to ask you is, why is there so much concern about young people at institutions? Well, it’s been shown more and more that the outcomes for young people in big institutions are really extremely negative, or the risks of the outcomes being negative are very high. And that stems, of course, from the very nature of the kind of facilities that are provided.
In other words, you know, that there is very little individual attention given to children, there is very little thought to how children are going to develop and become able to look after themselves and to operate in a– functioning in society once they leave. The idea is simply to give them a minimum of physical needs or respond in a minimal way to their physical needs. And this is what separates out what we call an institution from any other residential facility. They’re not looking forward in terms of enabling the child to develop as other children do and to function in society. And this is being shown more and more to be, I would say, I would emphasise, to be a big danger.
It’s not going to happen for every child, but the danger of it having– of it happening is very, very high.

What are some of the concerns regarding children in institutions that has meant an international call on governments to phase out their use? In this video, Nigel is interviewed by a young care leaver, Gary Patterson. He asks Nigel about concerns for children in residential institutions.

Nigel speaks about concerns for any child who is placed in an institution. The concerns he is speaking about are applicable to all forms of unsuitable residential care, including those you may find, for example, in large children’s homes, transit centres and emergency shelters.

One of the main purposes of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children is to improve implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as other international provisions regarding the protection and well-being of children. This includes unaccompanied and separated children and those who are accompanied but are placed in care due to protection risks.

In this video, Nigel speaks about concerns for children’s rights and the well-being and developmental outcomes for children who have been placed in institutions. He reminds us that the Guidelines recognise care ‘should be provided under conditions that promote the child’s full and harmonious development’ and how the role of the State is important in ensuring ‘the supervision of the safety, well-being, and development of any child placed in alternative care’.

The ‘See Also’ section below has a links to other reading materials that may be of interest to you.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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