Susan Kehoe 0

Belfast PCSP remove the 'Where is your child' campaign poster

83 people have signed this petition. Add your name now!
Susan Kehoe 0 Comments
83 people have signed. Add your voice!
Maxine K. signed just now
Adam B. signed just now

Belfast PCSP – “Where is your Child” Campaign PlayBoard NI is absolutely dismayed at the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership’s (PCSP) current campaign ‘Where Is Your Child’ with its deeply negative imagery and associated slogan ‘Playing Out or Playing Up? Do you know where your child is?”. The imagery used within the campaign poster builds on practically every negative stereotype available regarding children and young people, from the scowling, menacing young person in the ‘hoodie’ to his shadowy ‘mates’ in the background. We are appalled at the use of what visually appears to be an image of a young Muslim girl in the background of the poster, further building on negative racial stereotypes on top of the demonisation of children and young people. We note that from its background notes that the PCSP campaign is predicated on ‘raising awareness of the fear that can result from large gatherings of young people’. The PCSP goes on to ‘recognise that young people may gather in large groups for no reason other than to socialise, however this can have a negative effect on residents who feel fearful of such large groups, even when anti-social behaviour is not occurring’. We find this rationale perplexing. The PCSP appears to be saying that even in circumstances where children and young people are not doing anything wrong and are not engaged in anti-social behaviour they should be viewed with fear and suspicion by the rest of society. This is fundamentally wrong. As an organisation focused on promoting the rights of children and young people and advocating the multiple benefits of play – from improving physical and mental health, enhancing social development, building self-esteem and indeed building wider social cohesion – we find this campaign and its slogan to be not only offensive in the extreme, but in direct contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In 2008, in response to the UK State Party report to the UN, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated: ‘The Committee is ... concerned at the general climate of intolerance and negative public attitudes towards children, especially adolescents, which appears to exist in the State party, including in the media, and may be often the underlying cause of further infringements of their rights. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure full protection against discrimination on any grounds, including by taking urgent measures to address the intolerance and inappropriate characterization of children, especially adolescents, within the society, including in the media ...’ More recently in its General Comment (17) on Article 31 (the right to Play, Leisure, Recreation, Rest, Cultural life and the Arts) the UNCRC highlighted in particular the destructive impact of negative imagery and public statements with regards to children and young people’s play and indeed their very presence within public spaces: “…in many parts of the world, there is decreasing tolerance of children in public spaces. The introduction, for example, of curfews on children; gated communities or parks; reduced noise-level tolerance; playgrounds with strict rules for “acceptable” play behaviour; restrictions on access to shopping malls builds a perception of children as “problems” and/or delinquents. Adolescents, in particular, are widely perceived as a threat by widespread negative media coverage and representation, and discouraged from using public spaces. (Para. 37, General Comment 17, UNCRC) General Comment 17 further highlights that State Parties have a responsibility to invest in measures which challenge widespread cultural attitudes which attach low value to the right to play within the public domain including: • “Public awareness of both the right to and the significance of play, recreation, rest, leisure and participation in cultural and artistic activities for both boys and girls of all ages in contributing to the enjoyment of childhood, promoting the optimum development of the child and building positive learning environments; • Measures to challenge the pervasive negative attitudes, particularly towards adolescents, which lead to restrictions on the opportunities for the enjoyment of their rights under article 31. In particular, opportunities should be created for children to represent themselves in the media” (para. 56b, General Comment 17, UNCRC). We believe this campaign by the PCSP directly contravenes the rights of children and young people as defined by the UNCRC. We are asking the PCSP to remove the poster from the public domain with immediate effect. We are also asking the PCSP to issue a public apology for this appalling exercise in the demonisation of children and young people and the perpetuation of negative, social stereotypes. If you agree with us, please sign this petition.

Share for Success