Saturday 4 January 2014

Don't punish children for being children - sign this petition

Children at Play - Brueghel
Play England, of which I am a member, has been Tweeting supporters asking them to sign a petition to Norman Baker, Minister of State for Crime Prevention, over proposals to redefine anti-social behaviour. The petition was started by the Standing Committee for Youth Justice and their text and justification are self-explanatory.

There is enough discouragement of children's play as it is, as well as the temptation of screen entertainment. On the estate where I live children ride their assorted bikes and scooters around the close, have 'adventures' in the woodland that borders the estate, sometimes build their own shelters and dens as well as playing in the 'official' playground.

It is happy, healthy , safe and sociable but could be ended by one persistent complainant if this change goes through.

Here is the petition.
We call on the government to keep the existing definition of anti-social behaviour and not to broaden it to “conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance.”

Why is this important?

The government is changing the law and replacing ASBOs with Injunctions To Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs). While ASBOs targeted behaviour considered to “cause harassment, alarm or distress,” IPNAs will target conduct “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance”.

This new wording is too vague and casts the net far too wide. 

A ten year old could get an IPNA for doing something as harmless as playing football or climbing a tree, just because someone finds their behaviour annoying. And the punishments aren’t trivial either. An IPNA can lead to a prison sentence. 

Even the Association of Chief Police Officers, in giving evidence to MPs, warned that IPNAs “have the potential to be used inappropriately” and “unnecessarily criminalise” children.

Let’s tell the government we don’t want our children to be punished for being children.

Please sign our petition to Norman Baker, the Minister for Crime Prevention, asking him to keep the current definition of anti-social behaviour as causing harassment, alarm or distress.

You can sign the 38 degrees petition HERE
A House of Common research paper on the proposal can be found HERE

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