Some professionals don’t always know what children in care and care leavers are entitled to. This can have a severe impact on children and young people, who rely on carers and other professionals to help them navigate the complexities of the system. Children’s rights are important because they help young people grow up happy and healthy. Rights are about making sure people are treated well and get a fair deal. They set out what is needed for people to live well. Everybody has rights, and everybody should respect the rights of other people. We all have responsibilities to do that. That's how you get a safe and happy society. Understanding the rights of the young people you work with is vital for you to best support them. There is a lot of information and advice out there for young people to access but they may not know about what is available to them or do not feel able to access advice and support. This is why it is important that the people that have a duty of care for care experienced young people understand their rights. It is essential to know how to access them, and what to do if those rights are compromised so that young people are informed at every stage of their care experience.
Some people find the idea of "children's rights" quite difficult. But children's rights are human rights and knowing these rights will allow you to advocate on their behalf and encourage young people to understand their rights so they can stand up for them and the rights of others.
Rights need to be protected and someone needs to make sure that they are respected. In Scotland that is the children & young People’s Commissioner.
In 2001, The Scottish Parliament decided that Scotland should have someone who works to look after their rights after consulting with children and young people. The commissioner represents young people up to the age of 18 or 21 if they’re care experienced. The Commissioner's job is to protect and promote young people’s rights and they are independent of the Government or Parliament.
The Commissioner works to make sure that young people and other people know about their rights and that people making decisions - for example local councils or public bodies like the NHS and Police - have your best interests at heart. The Commissioner will also speak out if they believe children or young people aren't getting a fair deal and where improvements could be made. In Scotland, the UNCRC is embedded in law, giving more rights to young people and more responsibility on the people that have a duty to protect care experienced young people. There is a “child-friendly” version of the bill which can be found here.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been embedded in scots law. The articles set out the rights of young people under the age of 18.
The UNCRC is made up of articles these articles explain your rights in more detail there are 54 articles in total and 42 of these apply directly to children and young people the rest apply to the government and people involved in your life and help your rights be understood better by adults. There is a child friendly version of the bill which is linked below.
You can also support a young person to access their rights and to understand them better through an advocacy worker who will advocate on their behalf. This can be especially useful if a young person does not understand the rights they hold. Advocacy workers have a good knowledge of the care sector and how to influence change and access rights or challenge decisions.
Interested in learning more? If you would like to find out more about rights and what the Commissioner does, please visit www.cypcs.org.uk
To get in touch with the Commissioner and team, phone 0131 346 5350 or free phone number 0800 019 1179 this number is for young people to use, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Scot InfoLine
If you have a question and don't know who to turn to, then call Young Scot InfoLine. You can ask anything from how to get all your charges back from the bank to how you can improve your diet. All calls are confidential and are FREE from landlines and your mobile.
Phone Young Scot InfoLine on 0808 801 0338 (Mon to Fri 10am - 6pm) or visit their website.
Is a young-person-led network that works to promote young people's participation and information rights.
Scottish Child Law Centre
Free legal advice for under 18s – they can help you with any questions about the law.
Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights)
Is a charity with over 340 members, including other charities, schools, and lots of people who work with children. Together raises awareness and understanding of children's rights, and works to make sure that the rights of every child and young person in Scotland are met.
Is the United Nations agency that promotes children's rights all over the world.
You cannot be a relational practitioner, without adapting your practice to the realities and experiences of the young person in front of you. For many young people of colour their experiences are shaped by their ethnicity, race and/or religion. This Guide is a short introduction to how young people who are Black, Asian or part of other ethnic minorities.