Appendix 4: Involving Children and Young People in Children's Rights Reports
Children and young people's participation in Children's Rights Reports
151. Public authorities should consider how to meaningfully engage with, and support the participation of, children and young people in the preparation of Children's Rights Reports. This is in line with the principles of the UNCRC, specifically Article 12 (a child's right to be heard) and is also central to GIRFEC as well as a range of other Scottish legislation and guidance. Approaches to engagement and participation should involve children and young people who have a range of experiences, views and circumstances and should specifically take account of children and young people who may be marginalised, excluded and/or from a minority group.
Existing processes and mechanisms to support participation
152. Many authorities will already have the existing structures to support the engagement of children and young people e.g. local youth councils, pupil councils, young people-led organisations, young people's committees and other formal or informal structures. In addition, third sector organisations also have extensive experience in supporting the participation of children and young people. These structures and organisations can help public authorities in ensuring children and young people contribute to, and inform, children's rights reporting.
Children and young people's right to participate
153. The UNCRC clearly states that all children have the right to participate. There is no minimum age at which children can exercise their right to participate. Younger children should therefore be supported to have their say, in line with their evolving capacities (Article 5). Children with language, communication or learning difficulties should similarly have access to assistance so that they are able to fully participate.
How to involve children and young people
154. Public authorities may wish to explore at an early stage how to engage with children and young people. Some public authorities may not be working directly with children and young people or may not have mechanisms in place to support children and young people's participation. They may wish to work with other organisations, such as those in the third sector, that can support them. Others will have in-house experts such as Children's Rights Officers or education, childcare, play and youth staff etc. who can support the participation of children and young people.
155. There are many organisations and resources available that can support public authorities in involving children and young people. Suggested organisations and resources are included at the end of this Appendix.
Approaches to involving children and young people
156. Public authorities should consider the best approaches to involving children and young people in the preparation of Children's Rights Reports. They may wish to consider the following steps. This is not an exhaustive or prescriptive list and should be adapted to meet public authorities' needs.
Step 1: Involving children and young people
157. Public authorities should involve children and young people as early as possible in order to consult them on the best approach to developing Children's Rights Reports. Consideration should be given to ways of involving children and young people during the whole process and not solely in one-off consultation activities. This might involve establishing an advisory group of children and young people and/or more informal approaches to ongoing engagement.
158. This early engagement would benefit from working with existing structures for children and young people such as local youth councils, pupil councils, young people-led organisations, young people's committees and other formal or informal structures. It should also include working with others such as third sector organisations that provide services and support to children and young people.
159. Children and young people who might not be included in existing formal structures and require support to participate should also have opportunities to engage in and influence the process of developing Children's Rights Reports.
Step 2: Gathering evidence from children and young people
160. Public authorities should establish what baseline information and evidence is already available which reflects the views and experience of children and young people, and where there are gaps. It is anticipated that this will include quantitative (numerical based data) and qualitative (interviews, consultations, surveys etc.) information.
161. Public authorities should consider how to gather children and young people's views and experiences to inform the Children's Rights Reports. This should be explored in consultation with children and young people. Again, this may use existing processes and structures. Attention should be given to all areas of children's rights that the public authority is reporting on.
162. Detailed consideration should be given to including children and young people who might: not be included or have a voice in existing structures (e.g. younger children, disabled young people, children and young people with experience of poverty and low income, young Gypsy Travellers), be vulnerable (e.g. children and young people who are looked after) or have demands which makes it difficult to participate (e.g. young carers, children affected by domestic violence, children in hospital).
Step 3: Identifying the best approaches to gathering views and experiences
163. Public authorities should consider the most appropriate approaches to gather evidence (e.g. web-based surveys, talks with school or youth groups, special consultation events, road shows, focus groups, one-to-one interviews, arts-based approaches).
164. Consultation or engagement materials might be disseminated to children and young people through appropriate websites, schools or colleges, childcare, play and youth services or social media.
165. Engagement with children and young people should:
- ensure that information is provided and children and young people's informed consent is sought (and parents/carers as required);
- ensure children and young people's right to privacy, anonymity and confidentiality (in line with child protection procedures);
- support the participation of children and young people across the age range, and
- take into account children and young people's different communication needs (e.g. younger children, children whose first language is not English, young people with non-verbal communication needs).
Step 4: Producing child- and young person-friendly reports
166. Public authorities should explore with children and young people the most appropriate child- and young person-friendly formats for Children's Rights Reports. This could include traditional formats such as paper reports and verbal feedback and other non-traditional formats using social media and arts-based approaches.
167. Public authorities should ensure that child- and young person- friendly formats of the report are made available and accessible to all children and young people, taking account of age and different communication needs.
Step 5: Children and young people are involved in scrutinising Children's Rights Reports
168. Children and young people should receive information about the outcomes of their engagement, and how their views are reflected in the Children's Rights Reports.
169. Public authorities should create opportunities for children and young people to be engaged in scrutinising the findings of Children's Rights reports and to provide mechanisms for evaluative feedback which will inform the next process of developing Children's Rights Reports.
Involving families, communities and practitioners
170. Engagement in the development of Children's Rights Report should also extend to families, communities and practitioners (both those employed by the public authority and those from the third sector or other public bodies). Public authorities should similarly explore the most appropriate ways to involve people from these different interests and at what point and how.
171. These engagement processes should take account of other commitments as outlined in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) 2015 Act and other legislation and guidance.
172. Additional information is provided at:
- The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 12: The right of the child to be heard
- Scottish Government (2015), When and how to best use the Child Rights Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)
- The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, The 7 Golden Rules for Participation
- The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland has produced a range of other useful resources on participation
- Capability Scotland, Empowered and Effective Decision-Making
- Roshni (2015) Minority Ethnic Children and Young People's Views on Children's Rights in Scotland, Scottish Government
- Scottish Health Council, The Participation Toolkit
173. Further Information on involving and consulting with children and young people is also available from the following organisations: