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Melding: Commissioner's work important for the children of Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales

"I congratulate the children's commissioner and his team for an excellent report, and commend their outstanding work on behalf of Wales's children.

I also put on record my gratitude to the Minister for Health and Social Services for the decisions that she has taken over the years. We are now seeing the rewards of some good, profound thinking and a consensus approach.

This report is gritty—it is full of uncomfortable facts for any government. It would not matter who was the governing party; it still makes for uncomfortable reading. It speaks volumes for the Minister that she encourages that sort of independence and that sort of advocacy on behalf of children. The report contains many points that tell us that we are on the right tracks and that our priorities are correct.

I hope that the Assembly will evolve a mechanism to consider this report. It is rather unfortunate that we have had to go through a procedure to extend this debate, so that we barely get an hour to discuss it.

The children of Wales are worth a full Plenary session of some form, and I hope that we can come up with a mechanism that will deliver that. Janice Gregory's remarks were also apposite that we should still allow the committees to work with the commissioner unilaterally.

I will restrict myself to two issues that have not been raised directly this afternoon. In many ways, they refer to that grey area where the commissioner can take some action, but which also involve issues on a UK basis, such as law and order and youth justice. First, it is still an absolute disgrace that we have children in prisons. This has been a problem for many years.

We know that boys, in particular, but girls also, are at an incredible risk of suicide during the first few days that they are locked up. We have had long enough to sort this out. If we need secure places, we should commission them and not put children—and young people—in adult prisons.

I do not care how they are separated; the fact that they are in that environment is completely inappropriate and is an abuse of their human rights. I hope that the children's commissioner will take this forward and tell us some uncomfortable truths in the year ahead.

The second issue is the sex trade. This is a most unpalatable subject, but, sometimes, we must speak directly about things that we find profoundly uncomfortable to even think about. There has been some recent activity, which the children's commissioner, together with other charities involved in children's welfare, has supported.

They are right to focus on the issue of trafficking children and displaced children getting tied up into being sex slaves, as is often the case, or involved in the production of pornographic images.

We do not know much about this subject—we do not know where it is done, or how many children are abused in this way. However, I am told that, literally, millions of images are available on the internet for those so depraved to seek them out. I am also told that much of the prostitution industry is fuelled by young people, as well as children.

I do not know whether this is a great problem in our cities, towns and villages. Does anybody know? However, we need some evidence on this subject, because there cannot be any greater abuse than taking away the right of children and young people to full and proper sexual development. We must tackle this area.

It is rather analogous to bullying—it is not a subject that we necessarily focus on often, we feel that it is foreign to our experience, and we feel challenged and uncomfortable even asking or talking about this sort of subject.

However, I hope that Peter Clarke will help us to focus on this sort of issue and get some coherent policy on it, starting with reliable data.

"Llongyfarchaf y comisiynydd plant a'i dîm ar adroddiad ardderchog a chanmolaf eu gwaith aruthrol ar ran plant Cymru.

Hoffwn gofnodi hefyd fy niolch i'r Gweinidog dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol ar y penderfyniadau a wnaed ganddi dros y blynyddoedd. Yr ydym bellach yn eu gweld yn dwyn ffrwyth ar ffurf syniadau dwfn, da a gweithredu drwy gonsensws.

Mae'r adroddiad hwn yn bigog—mae'n llawn ffeithiau annifyr i unrhyw lywodraeth. Ni fyddai gwahaniaeth pwy oedd y blaid mewn grym, mae'n dal i beri anesmwythder ymhlith y rhai sy'n ei ddarllen.

Mae'n dweud cyfrolau am y Gweinidog ei bod yn annog y math hwnnw o annibyniaeth a'r math hwnnw o eiriolaeth ar ran plant. Mae'r adroddiad yn cynnwys llawer o bwyntiau sy'n dweud wrthym ein bod ar y trywydd iawn a bod ein blaenoriaethau yn gywir.

Gobeithiaf y bydd y Cynulliad yn datblygu ffordd o ystyried yr adroddiad hwn. Mae'n anffodus braidd bod yn rhaid inni fynd drwy weithdrefn i estyn y ddadl hon, fel bod cwta awr gennym i'w drafod.

Mae plant Cymru yn werth sesiwn Cyfarfod Llawn o ryw fath, a gobeithiaf y gallwn feddwl am ffordd a fydd yn cyflawni hynny. Yr oedd sylwadau Janice Gregory ynglyn â chaniatau i'r pwyllgorau weithio'n unigol gyda'r comisiynydd o hyd hefyd yn berthnasol.

Cyfyngaf fy sylwadau i ddau fater nas codwyd yn uniongyrchol y prynhawn yma. Mewn sawl ffordd, maent yn ymwneud â'r meysydd annelwig hynny lle y gall y comisiynydd gymryd rhai camau, ond sydd hefyd yn cynnwys materion lle y gweithredir ar sail y DU, megis cyfraith a threfn a chyfiawnder ieuenctid.

Yn gyntaf, mae'n gwbl warthus o hyd ein bod yn carcharu plant. Bu hon yn broblem ers sawl blwyddyn. Gwyddom fod bechgyn, yn enwedig, ond merched hefyd, mewn perygl enbyd o ladd eu hunain yn ystod yr ychydig ddyddiau cyntaf ar ôl iddynt gael eu carcharu. Yr ydym wedi cael hen ddigon o amser i ddatrys y broblem hon.

Os oes angen lleoedd diogel, dylem eu comisiynu a pheidio â charcharu plant—a phobl ifanc—mewn carchardai i oedolion. Nid yw o bwys imi sut y cânt eu gwahanu; mae'r ffaith eu bod yn yr amgylchedd hwnnw yn gwbl amhriodol ac mae'n groes i'w hawliau dynol. Gobeithiaf y bydd y comisiynydd plant yn ymchwilio i hyn ac yn dweud wrthym yn ddi-flewyn ar dafod fel y mae pethau mewn gwirionedd yn y flwyddyn sydd i ddod.

Yr ail fater yw'r fasnach mewn rhyw. Mae'r pwnc hwn yn un tra annymunol, ond, weithiau, rhaid inni siarad yn uniongyrchol am bethau y mae'n hynod annifyr inni hyd yn oed feddwl amdanynt.

Bu rhywfaint o weithgarwch yn ddiweddar, a gefnogwyd gan y comisiynydd plant, ynghyd ag elusennau eraill sy'n ymwneud â lles plant. Mae'n briodol eu bod yn canolbwyntio ar fasnachu mewn plant a'r broblem o ran plant wedi'u dadleoli sy'n cael eu gorfodi i fod yn gaethweision rhyw, fel sy'n digwydd yn aml, neu, eu gorfodi i gymryd rhan yn y gwaith o gynhyrchu delweddau masweddus.

Ni wyddom ryw lawer am y pwnc hwn—ni wyddom ble y mae'n digwydd, neu faint o blant sy'n cael eu cam-drin yn y modd hwn. Fodd bynnag, dywedir wrthyf, fod miliynau o ddelweddau, yn llythrennol, ar gael ar y rhyngrwyd i'r rhai sydd mor anfoesol fel eu bod yn chwilio amdanynt.

Dywedir wrthyf hefyd fod llawer iawn o'r diwydiant puteinio wedi'i gyflenwi gan bobl ifanc, yn ogystal â phlant.

Ni wn a yw hon yn broblem fawr yn ein dinasoedd, ein trefi a'n pentrefi. A wyr unrhyw un? Fodd bynnag, mae angen tystiolaeth arnom ynglyn â'r pwnc hwn, oherwydd, o ran cam-drin plant, nid oes dim byd yn waeth na mynd â hawl plant a phobl ifanc i ddatblygiad rhywiol llawn a phriodol oddi wrthynt.

Rhaid inni fynd i'r afael â'r maes hwn. Mae'n eithaf tebyg i fwlio—nid yw'n bwnc yr ydym o reidrwydd yn canolbwyntio arno ryw lawer, teimlwn ei fod yn ddieithr inni, ac mae'n beth heriol ac annifyr inni hyd yn oed holi neu siarad am bwnc o'r fath.

Fodd bynnag, gobeithiaf y bydd Peter Clarke yn ein helpu i ganolbwyntio ar y math hwn o fater ac i gael rhyw fath o bolisi cydlynol arno, gan ddechrau gyda data dibynadwy."

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