The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released its eighth annual State of the Child Report at a breakfast for government members and senior civil servants in Fredericton.
The release of the report coincides with the 25th anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report encourages all stakeholders to strive harder to promote and protect the rights of children and youth. The report contains an overview of various issues facing children and youth, as well as a thematic focus on mental health.
The report also contains more than 200 data indicators in a Child Rights and Well-being Framework.
Some discouraging statistics in the report include:
- The rate of child and youth hospitalization for mental disorders is high in New Brunswick. Only half of the children and youth who seek mental health services get service within 30 days.
- One out of every five graduating students does not feel respected at school. Nearly one-third of graduating First Nations students do not feel respected at school. One-third of graduating students with disabilities do not feel respected in their schools.
- The percentage of youth in pre-trial detention is considerably higher than other areas of the country.
Despite these findings, Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé struck a positive note.
“Ten years ago, the provincial government appointed its first child and youth advocate to defend and promote children and youths’ rights,” said Bossé. “My main message to you today is that, together, we are making a difference. Ten years ago, child and adolescent mental health was lacking not only services, but a focused approach across systems. Today, we are seeing a shift toward a concentrated effort to address these needs.”
In regard to the mental health of children and adolescents, the report points to a deepening problem, with increased anxiety and depression among young people. However Bossé said the government is paying greater attention to mental health needs, and that positive changes in service provision are being seen.
“Yesterday my 11th granddaughter was born in a New Brunswick that is more than ever focused on the rights of children to protection and provision,” said Bossé. “This report is about putting children first in New Brunswick and about being their champions.”
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