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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 07:00 GMT
Children to march for their rights
child at risk graphic
Young people are campaigning for more rights
Hundreds of children and young people are due to march on Downing Street on Saturday to demand more rights.

Youth groups have formed a coalition to urge the government to take children's rights more seriously.


We need someone who always has our best interests at heart

Teenager Andy Butler
They want to see the subject feature in the national curriculum.

A birthday cake to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UK ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will be delivered to Number 10 by organisers of the Rights Now! march on Saturday.

Shanell Johnson, 19, of the National Black Youth Forum, said the government should use this anniversary to reflect on the challenges facing young people.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
International treaty recognising rights of children and young people under 18
Right to express views on matters affecting them
Right to play, rest and leisure
Right to be free from violence
Two eligible countries have not yet signed treaty - Somalia and USA
Children and young people cannot use the courts to claim convention breaches
Convention can be cited in court when decisions are made about children and young people in care
"Young people are really worried about race attacks and about people living and dying in poverty," she said.

"The education system is still failing.

"It's not geared to supporting young people to reach their capacity and not enough is done to prevent bullying.

"Everyone needs to hear and respect the fact that we as young people have rights.

"Unfortunately 10 years on we are still seen as second-class citizens."

Marchers will call for the creation of a children's rights commissioner for England to give young people a voice in Whitehall.

Wales already has a commissioner and Scotland and Northern Ireland propose to follow suit.

Andy Butler, 14, from Huddersfield is among those calling for a children's commissioner.

He said: "There isn't anyone in the country who is just there for us.

"We need someone who always has our best interests at heart."

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