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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.
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.
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.
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.
Bills are proposed laws that are being examined by the Scottish Parliament.
Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) discuss them to decide if they should become law.
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:
We’ve heard that young people have faced abuse for shopping alone during lockdown, but this shouldn’t happen. Sometimes a young person is the only person in a family who’s able to do essential shopping, and when they do this they shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable in any way.
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.”
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 Rights. This 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.
Special procedures are independent human rights experts who report to the United Nations. They each report to the UN on a specific topic or country.
For example, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty is a special procedure who reports on extreme poverty and the actions States must take to prevent it.
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:
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.
That’s fine. You are allowed to leave your local area due to medical need.
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is always open, and that’s still true during the Coronavirus pandemic. They can offer you support and information if you don’t feel safe.
You can visit the Helpline’s website to chat to someone online or to email, or you can call them on 0800 027 1234.
And in an emergency you can still dial 999 for the Police, Ambulance or Fire Service.
Yes. The UK Government’s advice says people under 18 can move between parental homes.
The Scottish Government have confirmed that Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will continue to be paid when schools and colleges are closed. They’ve also been advised to use their discretion about medical absence, as most GPs are no longer able to issue doctor’s notes.
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.
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.
If you have a complaint about the police you can contact Police Scotland online, by post, by telephone, or in person at a police station. Information about how to make a complaint can be found here.
If your complaint is about a senior police officer you can make a complaint to the Scottish Police Authority.
If you are not happy with the response to a complaint, you can ask the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) to review the way your complaint was handled.
You can find information about whether a care service is registered and how to complain on the Care Inspectorate website.
Parenting Across Scotland, Action for Children and Children1st all offer support services for families, as well as advice and support for parents and children online. Parenting Across Scotland also has a very useful directory of helplines.
One Parent Families Scotland focuses on advice and information for single parents.
Turn2Us gives information about benefits, grants and support services for families suffering financial hardship.