What is a Children’s Human Rights Defenders School?

Child Rights Connect defines a Children’s Human Rights Defender (CHRD) as “children who take action to promote their human rights, the rights of their peers or the rights of others (including adults).” At Children’s Parliament, we have a growing team of CHRDs with children from Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Perth and the Western Isles. Katie Logie, Project Worker, explains where this team is taking us next.

We acknowledge that realising children’s human rights is everyone’s responsibility. In order to embed a children’s rights-based approach within policy, practice and legislation, we work in partnership with a range of adults from across the public, private and third sector. Through our ever-growing CHRD programme, we have introduced the concept of a Children’s Human Rights Defender school.

To be a CHRD school, the school has to embrace a rights-based approach and embed the work within their schools.

This includes:

  • Treating children with dignity and respect.
  • Encouraging children to share their views, ideas and opinions to help improve the school experience.
  • Embracing the work of Children’s Parliament’s ‘Children’s Human
  • Rights Defenders’ and taking on their calls to action in the school environment. Topics covered this year include gender equality in schools, children’s mental health and wellbeing and adults realising children’s rights.
  • Embedding the work done during Children’s Parliament projects into their school environment.
  • Supporting a group of children from their school to become ‘Children’s Human Rights Defenders’, who will feedback children’s views, ideas and opinions to some of the top decision makers in Scotland.

In our Children’s Human Rights Defender toolkit, we have some guidelines on how to embrace a children’s rights-based approach. Our top tips include:

  • Viewing all children and adults as equals and treating everyone with respect.
  • Creating structure and boundaries and then allowing freedom within these.
  • Using a range of creative arts as a way of exploring and expressing views, ideas and feelings.
  • Including children of all stages and abilities, encouraging children to participate at a level they are comfortable with and adapting activities and pace to the needs of individual children and groups.
  • Encouraging adults to participate and take part in each activity and discussion.
  • Making enough time to allow conversations and ideas to unfold and deepen. All views and ideas are valid, no matter how trivial or irrelevant they may appear.
  • Encouraging children and adults to try new things and be open to new ideas.
  • Acting with care and compassion and remaining aware that some issues raised may be sensitive for children.
  • Understanding and supporting children who are struggling. We recognise that all behaviour is a form of communication.
  • Being present.

For more top tips and guidance to become a Children’s Human Rights Defender, check out the toolkit here!

We are looking forward to going on this journey together with our new ‘Children’s Human Rights Defenders’ Schools and can’t wait to see what the year ahead holds!

Date: 25th May 2023
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