Children Have No Other Choices – Keep Schools Safe

Lord McConnell

The impact of conflict on children in particular is now a constant feature of news from around the world. The children featured may be from many different ethnic, religious or national identities, and the combatants in the conflict differ from place to place, but one thing is always true: whoever is responsible for the violence or the exodus of refugees, it is not the children.

The outlook for children growing up in many parts of the world today is truly bleak. Violence towards under 18-year-olds, exacerbated by conflict and humanitarian disasters, is horrific in its immediate impact, but it is also deeply damaging for the long term too. From human trafficking to child soldiers, from refugees in search of safety to those listening daily to the sound of approaching bombing, the physical and psychological consequences for children are obvious. And many millions are left without an education to help them build a life in the future.


CAR Unicef Refugee Camp

Visiting a UNICEF Refugee Camp in the Central African Republic


Unicef UK have joined the Keep Schools Safe campaign. They are urging the UK Government to sign up to international guidelines that would protect schools in conflict zones and last night broadcaster Kirsty Young hosted on this issue, her first event as the new President of Unicef UK. With speakers, including the formidable Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the campaign for safe schools for children caught up in conflict was highlighted. We heard about the use of schools for military bases, the attacks on schools and children, and the challenges of delivering education in refugee camps. As one speaker said: ‘the armies have choices about were they sleep and where they bomb, but the children have only one school and one childhood. They have no second choice.’

These guidelines – already signed by over 50 countries – set a standard, within international law, that would keep schools and classrooms for children and teaching. UK support would help persuade many others to follow. As campaigns to stop the recruitment of child soldiers and to challenge the use of rape as a weapon of war have shown in some places, it is possible to change previously unchallenged military behaviour. It is possible to lead by example, and the UK should now do so.



3 comments for “Children Have No Other Choices – Keep Schools Safe

  1. MilesJSD
    09/02/2016 at 7:30 pm

    Meanwhile our 63 million and the USA’s 200+ million “hungry” mouths
    are eating into,
    and heavily wasting too,
    their food-sources, food, bio- and non-bio resources.

    And we don’t give a fig even for our own and our children’s sustainworthy individual-human-development
    much less “foreigners'” !
    Two simple books would fill both gaps, 100% genericly too :
    “Natural Vision Improvement” by Janet Goodrich;
    “The Centering Book” by Hendricks & Wills.

  2. maude elwes
    11/02/2016 at 11:31 am

    It is ludicrous to pretend many of these so called ‘child refugees’ or ‘asylum seekers’ are, in fact, under 18 yrs. The ones shown on our news, apart from little ones, appear to be 40 yrs in many of the picutres and speak like they are well past that.

    And, to take this one step further, do you genuinely believe ‘children’ raised as boy or girl soldiers from 3 o 4, until they are old enough to find their way to Europe, are really going to be suitable canddidates for assimilation into a British school and childhood, which ultimately puts our own children at risk of peer indoctrination? As a clever adult you must know the old philosophy of ‘give me a child until the age of eight and I will give you the man.’

    What British person in their right mind would want to pollute their own children with experienced killers? Don’t you think with the internet killings and porn seen daily they are exploited enough? And now to want to add to that political exploitation of accepting ‘savage foreign cultures’ integrated into our schools to mix and teach our children more about violence and murder of their fellow man? This is a disgraceful concept, let alone trying to force us to ‘open our arms to it mother Merkel style.’

    Why not ask Israel to take them, their environment and culture is far closer to that kind of message than ours.

  3. maude elwes
    16/02/2016 at 8:12 am

    PS: To keep schools safe is the heading of this thread. Yet, we see in a very short news clip, so short it was hard to grasp, that an American has been chosen to head our school inspectorate service. Or something like that. And having now scanned the papers find nothing of it there. So, keep it dark is the obvious conclusion.

    US state schools are about the most unsafe on the planet. And the level of education terrifying.

    A friend of mine has two daughters that were at school in the US state system and because of the daily violence took them out and put them into a ‘private’ school. Strangely, very little if any violence there. I wonder why?

    Anyway, on a visit these girls aged 11 and 13 came back with their homework books and I perused same. Well I could have fallen flat dead. The 13 year old had a book to read that was written for a four year old. The language and sentences were the equivalent of Janet and John, I kid you not. Beatrix Potter would have been considered a university course for those kids.

    The book was a Janet and John style story of Rosie Parks and what a brave girl she was when she said No to the back of the bus. What an insult to Rosie. And the choice of an American to have anything to do with inspecting our schools is an insult to every one of us.



    Do we really need an American who has been part of their growing violent system, one that is the worst in any cvilised society, here inspecting ours. And don’t come back with a notion that because he has been part of such destruction he will know what to do to side step it here. They don’t as they cannot do a thing about it there. So this appointment is inappropriate.

    Why not instead go to a country without any school violence, or very little, and with good academic achievement, for one of their people to come and inspect ours to give us tips on what it is that keeps them safe?

    However, I will say one good word for the American news teams, at least they are allowed to speak about it and as a result try and deal with the reality of it. This country is in complete denial on any level and so it continues to grow like a cancer with those who simply refuse to accept what is happening here.

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