We’re available for advice on children’s human rights on email at inbox@cypcs.org.uk and on freephone at

0800 019 1179.

Q:
What does it mean for rights to be indivisible?
A:

The rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are indivisible because they can’t be separated from each other.

They shouldn’t be placed in an order so one’s more important than another, because they’re all part of a single broad structure that’s essential to human dignity.

Q:
What does it mean for rights to be inalienable?
A:

Something is inalienable when it can’t be taken away from you and when you can’t give it away.

This is true of human rights. You can’t lose them because of something you’ve done, and you can’t choose to give them up.

Q:
What are evolving capacities?
A:

As children grow older, they become more able to understand their lives and make decisions that affect them. This happens gradually, and it doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone— it depends on things like a child’s experiences, education and maturity.

A child’s ability – or capacity – to make a reasoned decision will depend on the decision being made.

Evolving capacities is a term used to refer to the increasing ability to make reasoned decisions in different parts of a child’s life.

What does the UNCRC say about evolving capacities?

Article 5 of the UNCRC says that the direction and guidance parents give their children should reflect the evolving capacities of each child. When a child is younger, they will need more protection, as they may be more likely to make choices without considering or understanding the consequences. But as a child gets older, this will slowly become less true.

Evolving capacities are also important to Article 12 of the UNCRC.

All children have the right to have their view heard and for it to be taken seriously. But the weight their view is given is dependent on their evolving capacities― the extent to which they can understand the issue and the possible outcomes of a decision.   

The concept of evolving capacities should never be used to dismiss a child’s view. The child’s view needs to be taken seriously whenever it’s heard as it can change what an adult considers to be in a child’s best interests, by giving them a better idea of what’s important to the child and what they consider distressing.

Q:
What are judicial and administrative proceedings?
A:

Judicial and administrative proceedings are two different ways in which legal decisions are made.

Judicial proceedings are legal processes where a judge makes a decision around what should happen. Court cases are a form of judicial proceeding, and so are tribunals like children’s hearings.

Administrative proceedings are legal processes that don’t involve a judge. Usually, they’re carried out by a government body.

Q:
What is a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment?
A:

Adults in power often make decisions that affect people― such as laws and policies. When they do this, they don’t always think about the impact these decisions will have on children and young people.

A Children’s Rights Impact Assessment, or CRIA,is a way to include children and young people in a decision. It looks at the ways the decision might affect the rights of children and young people― both positively and negatively.

By doing this, it means people know what the effect of the decision on children and young people is likely to be.

Q:
What is a human rights guarantor?
A:

A human rights guarantor is something or someone that acts to make sure human rights promises are kept by a State.

The Scottish Parliament is able to act as a human rights guarantor by:

  • making sure human rights are properly included in the laws it scrutinises, and
  • holding duty bearers to account so that they keep their human rights promises.
Q:
When I’m shopping for essentials during lockdown, can I take my child with me if there’s nobody to take care of them at home?
A:

Yes.

Along with parenting and children’s organisations we wrote to supermarkets over concerns that families were being challenged for bringing their children shopping with them. But the First Minister has been clear that families are allowed to bring their children to supermarkets when it’s essential to do so, saying:

“We understand that for some parents it’s not an option not to have your child with you, as you’ve nobody to look after them.

Yes, there will be some circumstances in which children have to be in supermarkets, and that’s perfectly understandable.”

Q:
What is the Council of Europe?
A:

The Council of Europe has an important role in protecting the human rights of hundreds of millions of people, including children and young people. But a lot of those people don’t really know what it is.

It often gets confused with the European Union, but it’s a completely different institution. 47 States across Europe are Member States of the Council of Europe, including States inside and outside of the EU.

The UK, which Scotland is a part of, is a Member State of the Council of Europe. This means it follows the European Convention on Human RightsThis is a law that enshrines certain rights and freedoms in all 47 Member States, including the UK. It applies to everyone in these States, including children and young people.

Q:
What is digital exclusion?
A:

When people create services for you to use they often assume that everyone has access to the internet all the time. If someone doesn’t, they may find it more difficult – or even impossible – to access a service, and when that happens we say they are digitally excluded. For example, a child without home internet access would be digitally excluded if they were asked to research a topic online.

Two common ways in which Scotland’s children and young people are digitally excluded are:

  • because of the cost of internet and devices used to access the internet
  • because of the poor availability of broadband in many rural parts of the country, especially in the Highlands and Islands.
Q:
Can I leave my home for health reasons during lockdown?
A:

You can leave your home for your own medical need or for the medical need of someone in your care— including a child or young person.

What if this medical need means I have to leave my local area?

That’s fine. You are allowed to leave your local area due to medical need.

Q:
Are my rights to education affected by the coronavirus response?
A:

You still have the human right to education during the coronavirus pandemic, but keeping everyone safe means you might get it in different ways, and learn in different ways. A lot of these will be delivered online.

If you aren’t able to access online material – perhaps because you don’t have internet access at home – it’s important to let your school know. It’s their job and responsibility to do something different for you so you can keep up with your learning.

Q:
My parent is in prison and I can’t visit them because of Coronavirus. What can I do?
A:

The Families Outside helpline is open on weekdays from 9 to 5 and can give you support and information while prison visits are suspended.

Being able to keep in touch with your parents is important for all children and young people. Having a parent in prison has a major impact on your human rights even in less unusual times. We’re calling for alternative ways to contact your parent to be found, so that the prison service respects your human rights.

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