Africans in London have strongly called on the government to address the over-representation of African children and families in the child protection system.
They made the call at a community meeting held at the House of Commons on 23rd October 2012.
The event organised by AFRUCA and hosted by former Children’s Minister Meg Hillier MP attracted over 100 members of the African community in London.
They were unanimous in lamenting the huge devastation the removal of children was having on families and the African community.
Participants were concerned about the long term impact of children being removed on society at large. A key issue that arose was the link between looked-after-children and young Africans involved in crime and criminality – especially gun and knife crime as well as in gangs.
AFRUCA’s new “Manual on Child Protection for African Children in the UK” was launched at the event.
Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Children Minister who gave the keynote speech said: “It is clear that more must be done to tackle the links between child abuse, the child protection system and the involvement of young Africans involved in crime and criminality. I commend the work of AFRUCA in helping to raise awareness and educate parents who have to deal with child protection cases.
AFRUCA’s new “Manual on Child Protection for African Children in the UK”, Ms. Nandy said, “will help keep children safe in their homes and out of care.”
In her speech, Ms. Hillier said: “It is clear that parents want support in how to discipline their children without using physical force. The AFRUCA guide is a useful tool for parents and also plays an important role in opening the debate on the issues around physical abuse within some African families. All children deserve protection and this guide should help achieve this while also supporting parents.”
Debbie Ariyo OBE, Director of AFRUCA said the community meeting at the House of Lords “was a landmark event addressing a very sensitive issue in our community.”
“Parents who abuse children should not be allowed to go scot-free,” Ms. Ariyo said. “However, we need to imbibe a “carrot and stick” approach in dealing with child protection cases so children removed from families who have to return home can be free of abuse living happily with their families and not have to return into the care system. There should be more emphasis on prevention and early intervention programmes to deter child abuse and support families experiencing difficulties.”
The meeting overwhelmingly supported AFRUCA’s proposal for government to establish a National Working Group to help explore the issue of over-representation of black African children in care system.
The community also called for a National Action Plan led by government to address the problem.
African Charities present at the event agreed to team up to organise a major conference on Child Protection for African parents in London in 2013.
AFRUCA will organise local campaigns to raise awareness of the “Manual on Child Protection for African Children in the UK”, to help educate and reduce the incidences of child abuse. The Mayor of Enfield, Kate Anolue agreed to host the first of such events in her borough.