Changing the law in Scotland

The powerful feeling of changing the law!

3 years ago, I participated in a conference call to share my learnings of changing the law in Ireland with Scottish colleagues. Since that call, I have visited Scotland several times to share ‘the Irish experience’ with members of the Scottish Parliament by meeting MSPs from each party, attending Scottish party conferences and seminars.

Last Thursday, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly for John Finnie MSP “Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act”. In the debate Minister Maree Todd said “I pay tribute to Jillian van Turnhout, who I know is here today. Ireland led the way in these islands.”

Through this journey, I have made lasting friends across the political spectrum. THANK YOU ALL for letting me be part of this journey. 

Legislation against corporal punishment of children in Canada

I recently visited Ottawa, the capital of Canada, to further the progress of legislation against corporal punishment of children.

I met with Natasha and Jane who assist Senator Murray Sinclair who is renowned for his work as former Chair of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He is sponsoring a bill to this end.

I met also met with Ron Ensom, former coordinator of the child protection program at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. It was super to share and learn from one another. Along with Joan Durrant, Ron has been a stalwart in the campaign for equal protection.

I also took the opportunity to meet H.E. Ambassador Jim Kelly.  It was great to have an opportunity to share my work in Canada to further their child protection laws and to gain useful insights from the Irish Ambassador to Canada. I am always proud of Ireland’s team abroad and none more so than Jim.

Finally, I also took the opportunity to visit the House of the Senate and the House of Commons. It is always interesting to see and learn the legislative process in other countries.

Jillian van Turnhout awarded European Medal of Service by WAGGGS

Jillian van Turnhout was awarded a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) Europe Region medal of service in recognition of her outstanding service to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting at European level. She was thanked for bringing purpose and meaning to Regional planning and praised for her “generous and inclusive leadership” and for her “vision, intelligence and deep commitment”.

 

Jillian’s role in banning corporal punishment for children acknowledged

Jillian van Turnhout has long been campaigning for the rights of children. First in a voluntary capacity, later as CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance. After being appointed Senator by an Taoiseach Enda Kenny, one of her proudest accomplishments was to get legislation enacted that banned corporal punishment, including slapping, of children. in all settings.

Not being slapped is not only a child’s right, but slapping is also ineffective and can have a negative effect on the development of the child. And there are no positives!

Her role was acknowledged in the recent article in the Irish Medical Journal by Prof Alf Nicholson, National Clinical Lead for Paediatrics: “Moving Away from Slapping and Promoting Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children in Ireland”.

(Click the logo for a PDF of the article)

The article also got good coverage in the Irish Times.

(Photo of Prof Alf Nicholson © Irish Times)

Jillian has since been working with legislators and NGO’s in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to help pass similar bans in these nations.

Meeting with Facebook on their Safety policy

On the 4th of June I attended and interesting meeting with Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety and Amy McArdle, Safety Policy Manager EMEA, Facebook on Safety including children’s rights, child safeguarding and violence against women. I received an update on Facebook tools and policies and resources currently available and those in development. Good to have the opportunity to exchange views.

Certificate in Company Direction

Jillian has been a longstanding member of the Irish Institute of Directors. Recently she successfully completed all four modular examinations to be awarded the Certificate in Company Direction of this Institute. Jillian accomplished this at first attempt and in three of the four modules passed with distinction (Governance, Strategy and Leadership).

In more detail, the Certificate in Company Direction encompasses the knowledge and awareness that is necessary to function effectively as a director and provides:

  • An in-depth view of the role, responsibilities and legal duties of a director
  • An understanding of the characteristics of an effective board
  • Sound knowledge of financial terms and concepts
  • An understanding of the issues and processes associated with formulating strategic and business plans and achieving strategic leadership

This adds to the already huge practical experience Jillian has, gained through roles as Director of a commercial company, CEO of an NGO, NED on numerous boards, etc.

Helping Scotland with new law to ensure equal protection for children

This post is to say a big “Thank You” to the MSPs (Members of The Scottish Parliament) Equalities and Human Rights Committee for their welcome granted to me. I was honoured to be invited to give evidence on Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill. I welcomed the cross-party approach to legislative scrutiny. The proposed legislation will remove the common law defence of ‘justifiable assault’ of children in Scotland. Wales will be publishing its legislative proposal over the coming days. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the common law defence is of ‘reasonable chastisement’. In 2015, when I was a Senator, I was proud to have championed the change in law in Ireland. I have been working with several other countries, who have a similar rooting of this law in their common law tradition to support them in their respective processes.

Kudos to Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPCC Scotland, Children 1st and all the amazing civil society organisations, professional bodies and practitioners who have come together to support the repeal of this archaic common law defence. Hope to see #EqualProtection in law soon in Scotland.

My evidence was covered widely – in fact 165 National and local papers across the UK and Ireland reported on it.

Below is the article as it appeared in “The Scotsman”, Scotland’s leading newspaper.

SMACKING BAN WAS ‘LIGHTBULB’ MOMENT IN IRELAND, FORMER SENATOR TELLS MSP’S

The introduction of a ban on smacking children in Ireland was a “lightbulb moment”, a politician behind the move has told MSPs as Scotland considers adopting similar legislation.

Jillian van Turnhout, a former Irish senator, had campaigned to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement in Irish law – which had remained in place following the repeal in 2000 of a law which allowed force to be used against children.

The campaign was a success, leading to the ban being brought in in December 2015.

MSPs in Scotland are currently considering taking similar action which would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law.

“When we changed the law in Ireland, we realised that it was the law catching up with how parents were parenting their children today,” said Ms van Turnhout, speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s equalties and human rights committee yesterday.

“The day I walked into the chamber [in Ireland’s national parliament], I didn’t know if I had a single colleague with me in the change of law.

“But I went in knowing that even if I was the only person who said ‘it is not OK to hit a child’, children in Ireland would know that somebody believed it is not ok for them to be hit.

“Much to my surprise, every single member of the Irish Parliament chose to support the law by not calling for a vote at any stage on it. For me, it was really a collectively powerful moment.”

Ms van Turnhout said the process was not easy, with some members of parliament, as well as some civil society organisations and members of the public, telling her the “time was not right” for a change in the law. She added: “What was fascinating for me, it was really a lightbulb moment – the second we changed our law, the same colleagues looked me in the face without any irony and said: ‘Why didn’t we do this years ago? This makes so much sense’.”

Dr Lucy Reynolds, a consultant paediatrician speaking in support of a ban, said that violence against children had the potential to cause harm in the long-term.

She said: “If you hit children, you are teaching them to expect either to dominate or to be dominated through physical violence and I don’t want our children to be taught that.”

Critics of the proposals say a ban on smacking would be an invasion of family life and could lead to an increase in the number of parents being prosecuted.

 
You can also watch me giving evidence by following this link: Evidence

Meeting Commissioner Vestager at Central Bank of Ireland

I had the great honour to meet and discuss a wide range of issues with European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, during her recent visit to Dublin. After our dinner, I presented her an award for her role in promoting Women in Leadership. The event was hosted in Dublin by European Movement Ireland, Sodexo Ireland, and the Central Bank of Ireland.

Click to see full picture.

Large picture: (l-r) Maurice Pratt, Jillian van Turnhout; Dr. Philip Lane, Governor of the Central Bank; Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, Noelle O Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, Margot Slattery, Country President of Sodexo and Catherine Day.

Picture by Conor McCabe Photography.

Jillian van Turnhout awarded honorary fellowship

Yesterday, 12th October 2018, Jillian van Turnhout was awarded with the honorary fellowship of the Faculty of Paediatrics, the highest honour the faculty bestows.

It is conferred on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the practice of paediatrics and also to individuals who have made significant contributions to improve the lives of children.

Dr Ellen Crushell, dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics, paid tribute to the new honorary fellows: “We are delighted to confer Honorary fellowship to four deserving candidates in recognition of their activities, advocacy and work for the benefit of children in our society.”

Jillian is joined by Joe Schmidt, a New Zealand-born rugby union coach – currently the head coach of Ireland, paediatric ophthalmologist, Professor Michael O’Keeffe and paediatric oncologist, Professor Sir Alan Craft.

Jillian van Turnhout commented upon receiving the award:

“I am chuffed to receive the tribute of an Honorary Fellowship by the Faculty of Paediatrics of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. It is “in recognition of your significant contribution to children’s health and wellbeing, through advocacy and in particular your work in the area of promoting children’s rights nationally and internationally.” It was a great honour to receive this award along side Dr Michael O’ Keeffe, Joe Schmidt, and Prof Sir Alan Craft.”