During September 2018, Scotland’s First Minister made a commitment to incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots’ law. Scottish Government has since clarified that its intention is to move beyond the four key ‘principles’ of the UNCRC and is currently exploring how to fully incorporate the Convention.
After many years working to progress children’s human rights in Scotland, Children’s Parliament and other third sector organisations welcomed this announcement. As the Scottish Government considers how to incorporate the UNCRC and review draft legislation, we wanted to take a moment to share what children tell us about the importance of children’s human rights and why they should be law in Scotland.
Children’s human rights are about ensuring that children are healthy, happy and safe and that they have a say about what happens in their lives. The UNCRC provides a set of minimum standards against which we can measure how we’re doing and below which we must not fall. Children feel it is especially important for children AND adults to be aware of children’s rights and they view them as a way to ensure that children live free from harm and are able to thrive.
Children say that they want the Scottish Government to understand more about children’s lives, the issues that impact upon them, and what it means for them to have their rights. They tell us that everyone – children, adults, the Scottish Government – need to know what children’s human rights are and that it is the government’s job to make sure that children in Scotland are treated well and not harmed, ignored or stereotyped. They say that the UNCRC should be a law so that adults pay attention to it. It is essential that we go beyond awareness and understanding of children’s human rights so that they become embedded in everyday life and more children experience the realisation of their rights.
We believe that full incorporation of the UNCRC is a fundamental requirement if Scotland is to be a country where rights are fully understood, supported and realised.
What children say about rights
“People only have one life, so you need to have a good one! Once it’s gone, it is gone.” MCP, age 10
“I think more people in Scotland (especially kids) need to know about their rights. If something unfair happens, then they know what to do.” MCP, age 11
“Make it in the law that adults have to listen to children.” MCP, age 9
“Enforce children’s human rights instead of just letting it be optional to people.” MCP, age 11
“Our views are important, we see the world in an imaginative and positive way. We need to be valued for what we can offer the world now as children, not just as citizens-to-be.” MCP, age 14
“Rights are important, very important! It’s actually a bit of care and love for you!” MCP, age 9
“Please make people follow children’s rights harder and make an effort to enforce them in Scotland and then we will inspire other nations to do the same.” MCP, age 10
A Call to Action from children
• Adults should listen to children and take us seriously.
• Children’s views, ideas and dreams should lead to action and should mean that adults do some things differently.
• Make sure that children and young people learn about and understand democracy and civic participation.
• Adults should use their power positively as they have the responsibility to promote, protect and achieve children’s human rights in Scotland.
• Children want to be informed and learn about their human rights in fun ways that are easy to understand. It should be a part of our education and adults should know about them too!
• Children want all adults to know about and understand their duties in respect to children’s human rights and the UNCRC.
• Make rights a reality in children’s lives at home, in school, in our communities and across Scotland. Make children’s human rights a law.
Our friends at Together and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland have convened a short-term Advisory Group to explore what a Bill to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law would like and have shared a draft Bill with Scottish Government. To read more about the current Children’s Rights (Scotland) Bill, please go here: bit.ly/2DEgVU8