25 October 2004
Methodist minister joins mass lobby of Parliament for children’s rights
Tomorrow the Methodist Church will take part in a mass lobby of Parliament in an effort to secure equal rights for children.
Organised by the 'Children are Unbeatable!' alliance, the lobby aims to persuade MPs to scrap the 1860 legal defence of 'reasonable chastisement' and amend The Children Bill to give children equal protection from assault.
The Bill, which will reform children's services and establish an independent children's commissioner for England, has just gone through the committee stages of the House of Commons.
Revd Susan McIvor, who will represent The Methodist Church at the lobby, said: "Children were central to Jesus' teachings about the new social order which was so revolutionary at the time. He regarded children as people who were to be treated with respect for their human dignity. "
She continued: "These same principles are endorsed in the recent report of the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, which also highlights the fact that we in the UK are lagging behind other countries in this long overdue reform for children."
Christine Dodd, Coordinator of the Churches' Network for Non-violence (CNNV), added: "Churches have historically been involved in social justice issues and it is to be expected that Christians should speak out on behalf of children. During the lobby we want to convey our belief that hitting children is wrong and that there is nothing "reasonable" about "reasonable chastisement", the archaic defence which must be changed so that small human beings have the same protection from being hit as adults enjoy."
After the lobbyists have met their MPs, the occasion will be marked with an ecumenical service dedicated to children and non-violence.