A Liverpool teenager whose campaign to protect the children of prisoners is supported by LJMU’s School of Education, is up for an international peace prize.
Aaron Scarth, from Liverpool, is on a shortlist of three alongside teenagers from Ukraine and the US for the KidsRights International Children’s Peace Prize, an annual showcase of young changemakers fighting for children’s rights across the world.
Aaron, who has spoken at LJMU events and contributes to our research is calling for greater protection for children who are stigmatised and discriminated against for having a parent in prison.
Dr Lorna Brookes, who conducts research into the children of prisoners, said: “Aaron is an absolute star. His contribution to our gathering data on the experiences of children impacted by parental imprisonment has been invaluable.
“His maturity, drive and level-headedness are remarkable. It’s hard to believe he is just 17.”
Such is his success, Aaron is today (Tuesday, 07 November) being interviewed on Sky TV’s youth channel and also speaks at an event for Merseyside Probation at the Student Life Building.
The Peace Prize 'Winners Ceremony’ will take place on 17 November in the Banqueting Hall, London.
Announcing the finalists, Founder and Chair at KidsRights Marc Dullaert, said: “This year has been extremely difficult for young people across the world. Yet the nominees for this year’s International Children’s Peace Prize award are a beacon of hope and an example to us all, demonstrating moral leadership and resilience by tackling the most pressing issues of our time.”
Aaron has already had to move home and school for his own safety after experiencing violence in school and in his community, due to his father’s circumstances.
At the age of 10, he became set on removing such stigma and has spoken in public and to the authorities of his experiences.
“Some people think that because you have a relative who has broken the law, you too might follow the same path which is simply not true and incredibly stigmatising,” said Aaron.
In 2018, Aaron helped rewrite the Council of Europe Recommendations concerning children of imprisoned parents, to ensure it was available in child-friendly language. He also supported the development of the Child Impact Toolkit for children of prisoners, which is now relied upon across the country and endorsed by the UK’s Children’s Commissioner.
His contributions to Liverpool City Council Child Friendly City Forums and Liverpool John Moores University Thinktank, around the effect of media on the safety of children has led to the securing of funding from the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership for an in-depth research project run by LJMU Journalism programme.
This project involves Dr Brookes and Frances Yeoman (Head of Journalism at LJMU) and hopes to raise awareness for both prisoners' families and journalists about each other worlds, and make recommendations for best practice for court reporting when children of offenders are impacted.
Globally, there are more than 22.5 million children globally with at least one imprisoned parent, representing over 1 percent of the entire world’s population of children, while a further 19,000 children currently live in prison with their mother. 312,000 children in the UK and 800,000 in the EU currently have incarcerated parents too.
The KidsRights winner will receive the Nkosi statuette along with a study and care grant for their education, plus a project fund of €100.000, half of which will support the winner’s cause, and half invested by KidsRights in other projects.