Embedding children's rights: position statement

The report sets out the progress made in relation to children's rights in Scotland since 2016.

Report Overview

This Scottish Government Position Statement is set out as follows:

Chapter 1 – Children's Rights in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic provides an update on the actions taken by the Scottish Government in responding to the immediate crisis and in the ongoing recovery period.

Chapter 2 – General Measures of Implementation provides further information in relation to the structures and resources to implement the UNCRC and includes discussion on:

  • the impact of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union;
  • the UK Government review of the Human Rights Act 1998;
  • the Scottish Government's commitment to a new Human Rights Bill;
  • the work to progress the UNCRC (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill;
  • existing reporting duties on Scottish Ministers and public authorities;
  • the use of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments;
  • coordination and strategic governance of children's rights in Scotland;
  • the three-year UNCRC implementation programme to deliver a fundamental shift in the way children's rights are respected, protected and fulfilled;
  • measures to raise awareness of children's rights;
  • our approach to ensuring that children's rights are embedded in the budgetary process; and
  • measures taken forward in relation to human rights and business.

Chapter 3 – General Principles focuses on how we are upholding the four general principles of the UNCRC: for rights to be applied without discrimination; for the best interests of the child to be a primary consideration; the right to life, survival, and development; and respect for the views of the child. Our response in this chapter summarises:

  • a wide range of policies, legislation, and support for mainstreaming equalities;
  • our approach to ensuring that complaints from children and their representatives are appropriately handled;
  • public attitudes towards children and work to address the negative portrayal of children and young people within the media and wider society;
  • measures in place to ensure that best interests of the child are a key consideration in decision making;
  • the PREVENT strategy in Scotland;
  • how we are addressing underlying determinants of infant and child mortality and seeking to reduce avoidable child deaths;
  • how we are promoting the right of the child to be heard in decisions affecting them, including in Scottish Government policy making; and
  • the publicly funded legal assistance that is available to children and young people in Scotland.

Chapter 4 – Civil Rights and Freedoms focuses on children's civil rights and freedoms, including children's right to move freely in public space, to access information and to privacy. It summarises:

  • our considerations in relation to religious observance in schools;
  • how we are promoting safe, ethical, and equitable access to online services and connectivity;
  • what we are doing to discourage the use of 'Mosquito' anti-loitering devices; and
  • how we are regulating stop and search and strip searches of children.

Chapter 5 – Violence Against Children focuses on violence against children including abuse and neglect and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It provides an account of:

  • legislation to make all forms of physical punishment of children by a parent or carer unlawful in Scotland;
  • guidance on promoting positive relationships and behaviour in schools;
  • our approach to protecting children from child abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  • how we are supporting child victims and witnesses of violence and sexual abuse throughout child protection and justice processes and the development of 'Bairns' Hoose' (our Barnahus model);
  • how we are tackling gender-based violence and domestic abuse (including how we are protecting children who may be affected) and "honour-based violence";
  • support for intersex children and young people;
  • Police Scotland policy and practice on the use of Tasers; and
  • measures to control and limit the use of restraint against children in schools and institutional settings.

Chapter 6 - Family Environment and Alternative Carefocuses on the needs of children within families and the care system. It describes:

  • how we are supporting both parents to be involved in a child's life;
  • how we are taking a preventative, multi-agency and whole family approach to support children when planning and funding children's services;
  • the principles that must be adhered to where professionals consider that children cannot remain safely in their family;
  • how we are promoting and supporting kinship care arrangements and children who are looked after at home;
  • how we are delivering the transformational change required to Keep The Promise by 2030;
  • provisions to ensure a gradual, supported transition of young people out of care; and
  • our support for Young Carers.

Chapter 7Basic Health and Welfare focuses on the basic health and welfare of all children and young people and the consideration of the rights of disabled children. It describes how we are:

  • taking steps to support disabled children and young people including at points of transition;
  • supporting, promoting, and protecting breastfeeding;
  • reducing health inequalities by addressing the underlying causes;
  • promoting food security and good nutrition;
  • addressing overweight and obesity among children;
  • promoting good mental health and wellbeing and ensuring there are accessible services for children and young people with mental health problems;
  • tackling child poverty;
  • taking steps to reduce homelessness; and
  • action to improve air quality and to respond to climate change and to develop a new approach to ensuring a genuine role in policy processes around climate for children and young people.

Chapter 8 - Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities focuses on the right of all children to an education that will help them to achieve their potential, without discrimination; the right to play and leisure and to participate in cultural life and the arts. It describes how we are:

  • improving attainment rates and educational outcomes for children in disadvantaged situations through, for example, the Scottish Attainment Challenge programme;
  • providing fair access to higher education by paying tuition fees and providing bursaries and student loans to eligible students;
  • ensuring that all children and young people get the support they need to reach their full learning potential by providing additional support for learning arising from a range of needs;
  • prioritising the needs of vulnerable pupils, including those with additional support needs, as part of our response to COVID-19;
  • ensuring that children with disabilities have access to and benefit from inclusive education;
  • focusing on health and wellbeing as part of the Curriculum for Excellence;
  • taking a national approach to anti-bullying for Scotland's children and young people;
  • preventing the need for school exclusion through, for example, good behaviour management and behaviour support teams;
  • providing relationship, sexual health and parenthood education in schools that reflects diversity;
  • integrating human rights education and respect for other cultures into the school curricula; and
  • providing the funded early learning and childcare offer and designing and testing options for all-year round school-age childcare systems that meet the needs of children and families.

Chapter 9 - Special Protections focuses on rights for children and young people who require special protection. It describes:

  • our New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, which supports our vision of a welcoming Scotland;
  • support and protection for child victims of trafficking and any form of exploitation as well as our overall vision of eliminating human trafficking and exploitation;
  • our public health approach to reducing violence that focuses on tackling the underlying causes through collaborative prevention and early intervention;
  • our approach to youth justice, which is guided by the principle of 'needs not deeds' and early intervention, prevention and keeping children out of the criminal justice system as far as possible;
  • the support provided to children in secure care and our commitment to ending the placement of under 18s in young offender institutions and supporting care-based alternatives; and
  • support for families impacted by parental imprisonment.

Annex A provides the Scottish Government contribution to the State party response to Part III of the LOIPR, a request for specified disaggregated data across a range of policy matters. This Annex has been updated where new data has become available since the original submission. It also provides breakdowns by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, where these are available.The data provided includes:

  • the spending budgets for children and children's services in Scotland;
  • the number of people prosecuted for offences against a child and the number of children suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm such as neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse;
  • the numbers of children in residential care, placed in foster care, placed for adoption, or placed with parents or person with parental responsibility;
  • the number of children prescribed with psychotropic drugs and the number of accepted referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services;
  • the estimated percentages who smoked, drank alcohol and used drugs, as well as the number of deaths of children related to alcohol, drugs or suicide;
  • the estimated proportions of children who were overweight or obese and the number of pregnancies that occurred in women under the age of 20;
  • the number of children in low income families and the number of children in temporary accommodation;
  • the number of cases of exclusion from school due to physical assault without a weapon and the number of children who were assessed or declared disabled and were attending regular schools; and
  • the numbers of children subject to taser deployment, who received custodial sentences from Scottish courts and who received a non-court disposal.

For several of the requests in Part III of the LOIPR, we did not hold the information and so have provided the closest available information or a nil return.

Annex B sets out the list of questions asked in Parts I and II of the LOIPR, relevant to Scotland.



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