Kids Missing Out

Download Report: Kids Missing Out (PDF, 903KB)

This year marks twenty years since New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). At the time of ratification, in 1993, the then Minister of External Relations and Trade, Rt Hon Don McKinnon stated:

Although no legislative changes were necessary to enable the Government to take this step, future policy development affecting children – including proposals for new legislation – will need to be considered in the light of the Convention. The Convention will help ensure that the interests of the children are fully considered in the future.

Kids Missing Out examines the extent to which these aspirations under UNCROC have been met in Aotearoa New Zealand. Unfortunately New Zealand has been slow to realise the potential offered by UNCROC to enhance the position of children in New Zealand society. This matters because the continued failure to meet obligations under UNCROC has very real, everyday consequences for children, individually and as a group. It also matters because it is harmful to New Zealand’s standing in the international community. Our country has often emphasised that it takes seriously human rights and its commitments under international human rights conventions.

UNCROC aims to ensure that every child has a healthy, happy childhood. The fact that over 190 countries in the world have ratified it underscores the universality of what is needed for every child to have “... a life of dignity and self-fulfilment.”2 This means: having enough food; access to medical care; being kept safe; spending time with, and being guided by, parents and family; playing and being with friends; being listened to and treated with respect; going to school; having a warm place to live; and being part of a supportive community.

Since New Zealand ratified UNCROC and promised to respect the human rights of all children in New Zealand an entire generation has grown up. Over that time, it seems, it has been too easy to overlook what we promised as a nation we would provide and do for all children in New Zealand.

There have been some positive advances such as the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act removing the entitlement of parents to use physical force to punish or correct their children, and the Children’s Commissioner’s Act 2003 which gives limited statutory recognition UNCROC. However, overall UNICEF believes progress in the implementation of UNCROC has been patchy and too slow. Increasingly, it has become clear that actioning what was promised in UNCROC will not happen in New Zealand without concerted action by Parliament and all government entities.

Our hope in publishing this report is that it will prompt some reflection and, more importantly, create the action necessary to ensure that all children growing up in New Zealand have their rights respected and protected to the fullest extent possible.

Download Report: Kids Missing Out (PDF, 903KB)