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Children’s rights in Scotland - a crucial year

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

The rights of all children must be respected, says Together Scotland

Earlier this year, a UN committee delivered a report to the UK government on the human rights of children and young people.

The committee concluded that, despite some progress from their last report in 2008, too often, decisions can be made by government without proper consideration of their effect on children and young people.

The report included 150 strongly-worded recommendations (known as concluding observations) that need to be taken forward at a Scottish and UK level – covering a range of issues from immigration to mental health, and child poverty through to the impact of air pollution.

Juliet Harris

The rights of all children in Scotland must be protected, respected and fulfilled, all of the time

Juliet Harris

It could be tempting to dismiss the UN’s report as being a dry and intimidating document produced by an institution that is far remote from children’s lives here in Scotland.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the recommendations made in the UN report reflect concerns brought to the Committee by the Scottish Youth Parliament, Article 12 in Scotland, members of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) and the children & young people’s commissioner for Scotland.

Before making the recommendations, the vice chair of the UN committee, Amal Aldoseri, spent two days in Scotland meeting with children and young people to discuss a range of issues from food poverty through to counter-terrorism.

As a result, the committee’s report is directly informed by and is relevant to children and young people in Scotland, and is fundamentally concerned with bringing about meaningful change in their lives.

For example, the committee’s recommendation that looked after children should be supported to maintain contact with their brothers and sisters when it is in their best interests would make a transformational change to the lives of many children in Scotland.

Similarly, the recommendation to introduce a statutory duty for local authorities to provide safe and adequate sites for Travellers would improve the likelihood of ensuring Gypsy and Traveller children have their rights to play and adequate standard of living respected.

On 17 November, ahead of Universal Children’s Day, Together published its annual State of Children’s Rights report.

Informed by the experience of over 350 professionals working with and for children, and the views and research of over 70 Together members, this report provides a comprehensive picture of the State of Children’s Rights in Scotland, setting out where progress is being made and what more needs to be done.

This report provides a roadmap for government, parliament and practitioners to support them in taking forward the UN’s recommendations.

It helps to reinforce the work of Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights and should be used across Scotland to ensure the rights of all children in Scotland are protected, respected and fulfilled, all of the time.

Juliet Harris is director of Together Scotland, an alliance of Scottish children's charities that works to improve the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The State of Children's Rights report is now available to view.



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George Mitchell
over 7 years ago
I was wondering if somebody from this organisation could contact myself please, numerous issues I need help with regarding my handicapped son
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