Children ‘left with no voice’ during pandemic

Bruce Adamson has warned that the coronavirus emergency has demonstrated how easily children are left with no voice, even as governments struggle to deliver policy aimed to benefit them.

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland said that policy has been created that excludes the voices of those who are most affected, and the last few months has seen no direct input from children and young people into decisions around the cancellation of exams, for example, or the change to a new method of assessment.

As Scotland moves into the next phases of its response and starts to plan ahead, the commissioner urged the Scottish Government to observe its commitment to include children and young people in decision making. Part of this should be a commitment by Scottish Government to carry out a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) on all legislation affecting children and young people.

Adamson said: “The pandemic has revealed that we’ve not made as much progress on children’s rights as we would like to think in Scotland. Under pressure, too many of our systems and structures reverted to treating children as passive recipients of charity and welfare rather than active agents in their own lives and valued members of our communities.

“In the absence of a comprehensive approach to ensuring human rights compliance by the Scottish Government, my office commissioned an independent assessment of what the legal and policy response to the coronavirus pandemic means for children’s human rights in Scotland. This is the biggest children’s rights impact assessment on Covid-19 conducted anywhere in the world and it assembles an extraordinary amount of evidence and expert analysis from the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland.”