UNITED KINGDOM: Making the case - why children should be protected from age discrimination and how it can be done

Summary: Proposals for the Equality Bill.

Children’s charities today accuse the Government of failing to protect children from discrimination.

The Equality Bill, a landmark piece of legislation will make it illegal to treat people unfairly in the provision of goods, facilities and services on the basis of age – unless they are under 18.

Ministers say the new legislation is designed to give everyone a fair chance in life. But they insist that there is ‘’little evidence’’ of harmful discrimination against young people and so they will be excluded from the new law.

The Young Equals coalition, whose members include the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, The Children’s Society and Save the Children, has published Making the Case, which strongly refutes this claim and questions why the Government is really failing to extend legal protection from age discrimination to under-18s. This dossier of evidence brings together a wide range of examples of discrimination against children and young people, including:

  • Children being unfairly refused entry to public services such as libraries, leisure centres, sports facilities, museums and art galleries
  • Babies and their parents facing difficulties using public transport, including being refused access to buses due to inadequate space for and intolerance of prams
  • Ambulance services failing to take children’s calls seriously 
  • The installation of high-frequency ‘’mosquito’’ devices to deter teenagers by giving out a high-pitched noise, which can also be heard by babies and young children who may be unable to alert carers to their distress

If children and young people are not protected by the Equality Bill, this discriminatory treatment based on age will be allowed to continue.

Young Equals is calling on the Government to give children legal protection from age discrimination in the Equality Bill. Such a move would prevent unfair treatment based on age but would still allow for justifiable age limits on products and services inappropriate for children, including alcohol and cigarettes.

Other recommendations include placing a requirement on public transport providers and public buildings to make reasonable adjustments for babies and young children with their parents and carers.

Mike Lindsay, national coordinator of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, which coordinates the Young Equals campaign, said:

“Ministers say that there is no evidence of harmful age discrimination against children – this document shows that this is simply not the case. The Government has said that it needs to do more to support parents and families. Excluding children from age discrimination protection seriously miscalculates the impact age discrimination has, not only on children, but also on parents and the other important adults in their lives.”

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, comments:

“Every member of our society needs to be protected from discrimination - and that includes our children. Ministers are making a huge mistake by exempting under 18s from the Equality Bill, and are sending out a stark message to children that the Government does not think they should be given the same rights and respect as adults”.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:
The Children’s Society’s Media Team, Tel: 020 7841 4422 Email: rdb@childsoc.org.uk, mobile: 07810 796 508.

Further information


pdf: http://www.crin.org/docs/Making_case_3.pdf



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