The problems adults don’t see
Eurochild Scottish member Together publishes the 2023 State of Children’s Rights in Scotland Report.
Every year, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) publishes a report which aims to monitor the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Scotland. There report which has been endorsed by 78 organisations and features 93 recommendations for improvements looks at whether enough is being done to fulfill the human rights of children living in Scotland.
Despite significant progress, Together outlines issues that are undermining many of the steps taken to further children’s rights at a legislative, policy and practice level. There is a significant “implementation gap” between what is set out in law and policy, and what happens in practice. Often this is due to a lack of awareness of children’s rights, gaps in involving younger children in decision making and inadequate resources.
There is real concern regarding UK Government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the only mechanism through which children can seek legal redress for a number of their rights. Brexit has weakened rights protection through loss of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, impacted families’ ability to stay together, contributed to economic uncertainty and worsened staff shortages across healthcare.
Children are also seriously affected by the growing cost-of-living crisis and lasting impacts of COVID-19. Children’s right to an adequate standard of living is being seriously impacted by social security cuts, freezes and benefits payments being reduced to recover debts. There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of children being forced to access food banks.
Poverty is having a negative impact on all rights under the UNCRC and driving lifelong consequences, with particularly serious impacts across children’s health, social connections, early development, education, play and learning. Cuts in legal aid and barriers to independent advocacy have resulted in children being unable to access justice.
The age of criminal responsibility remains below international standards; children are deprived of their liberty and imprisoned in breach of principles that this should be as a last resort and for the shortest possible time; solitary confinement and pain inducing restraint are still used in Young Offenders Institutions; and children still have no right to withdraw from religious observance in schools.