A dominant theme throughout this book is the consideration of children’s own perspectives on the efficacy of an integrated approach to children’s services and the extent to which their experiences of Every Child Matters (ECM) affect the quality of their childhoods. The rationale for this is based on a rights-constructed agenda. ECM amounts to little more than a mantra if it is not underpinned by a commitment to every child’s rights. Every child has a right to a childhood free from poverty, neglect and abuse. The fact that many children get anything but such a childhood does not detract from their fundamental entitlement to one, just as the number of adults denied freedom of expression does not invalidate freedom of expression as a human right. The multiple definitions of childhood render conceptions of children’s rights extremely complex. Within academic circles, children’s rights are often discussed separately from human rights. However, this separation is itself a rights issue and there are calls for ‘a re-integration of the isolated segments of the children’s rights agenda within the frameworks of human rights’ (Lenzer, 2002: 207). Others such as O’Byrne (2003) concur, maintaining that in so far as children are human, they are subjects of human rights standards and that age is irrelevant.
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