Article 5 of the UNCRC is about recognising that most young people will find that their parents, guardians or family are the people who are most qualified to give them good advice. It’s also about understanding how important family is to a young person’s wellbeing.
Best interests come first
Article 5 says that the parents or guardians of a child or young person should act in their best interests, as set out in UNCRC Article 3. What these are will change as a child or young person grows up: a young person is able to do more things safely than would have been the case when they were a child or a baby.
Parents or guardians should be aware of the changing abilities, wants and needs of children and young people in their care, and should take these into account when thinking about how to act in their best interests. Scots law recognises that a parent’s role is more about guidance than direction once a young person turns 16.
What Article 5 doesn’t mean
Article 5 is about the support a child or young person receives from their family, parents or carers. It shouldn’t be taken to mean a family member or carer can deny a child or young person their rights. If a child or young person’s best interests aren’t being looked after by their family or carers, then there should be things that person can do to change this. Children and young people should be able to make their own decisions about what these changes might be.
It’s important to know that:
- Article 5 doesn’t mean it’s for the best if all children and young people stay with a parent
- Article 5 doesn’t mean it’s wrong if children or young people want to get away from a parent
- Article 5 doesn’t mean children or young people should be judged if they’re not in contact with both their parents.
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.
More in the Rights questions and answers section